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Title: Beyond conflict : lessons from the fields
Author: Lord, P.
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2019
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Labour law is under threat. With crises pervading its normative paradigm, coverage and enforcement, its ability to regulate modern working relationships has recently been questioned. Fundamental to each layer of crisis, whether philosophical, empirical or judicial, is the predominant narrative of conflict as an axiomatic feature of what it means to be employed. This research questions the simplicity of that view and argues that the answer to the discipline's crisis of identity does not lie in reimagining the crisis but in the reimagination of labour law's identity. Applying a sociological lens and by focusing on one industry - agriculture - a more contextual picture emerged. Through conducting interviews with 31 farmers and farmworkers in England and Wales regarding their management of the statutory employment rights of status, wages, hours, leave, and health and safety, new insights appeared, to challenge the conflict narrative. In sum, these farmers managed labour rights based on principles of informality, flexibility, professionalisation and "good employership" and not, necessarily, the law. Consequently, legal compliance varied between formal, accidental, presumed and noncompliance, creating a disparity between legal expectation and practice. The reasons for this divergence stemmed from the interplay between agency and structure, and the constraints of the agricultural industry which confined labour decisions. Managing labour rights through these principles, to respond to these constraints, and not via the standard model which law promotes, led to a two-fold impact. First, unintended consequences arose where standardisation failed to reflect the internal realities. Second, workers were not exploited in the absence of law. Instead, relationships were generally reciprocal, mutually contingent and valued. For the law, this queries the authenticity of our paradigm and associated normative models. Instead, a new narrative is needed, built on the preservation of harmonious work relationships, to move labour law out of crisis and beyond conflict.
Supervisor: Njoya, W. ; Trinder, E. ; Lobley, M. ; Trinder, L. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: labour law ; farming industry ; socio-legal studies