Civic republican political theory and labour law

Cabrelli, David and Zahn, Rebecca (2018) Civic republican political theory and labour law. In: Philosophical Foundations of Labour Law. Philosophical Foundations of Law . Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780198825272

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Abstract

Several justifications are cited in the academic literature in favour of common law and statutory intervention in the field of labour law. First, there is the traditional ‘inequality of bargaining power’ rationale. This justification shares some commonalities with the second rationale, namely that labour laws are an integral part of the package that must be put in place to prevent the commodification of labour and achieve social justice and a more egalitarian society, in terms of the appropriate distribution of resources and opportunities. Finally, in recent times, the ‘law of the labour market’ school of thought has sought to conceptualise labour law as a discipline in more economic terms, in the sense that it promotes, and ought to promote, a regulated labour market that is well-functioning for the benefit of all. However, these justifications have been criticised for ignoring the realities of the contemporary labour market where increasing numbers of people work outside the confines of standard employment contracts and for even bothering to undertake such a ‘sterile’ exercise as attempting to identify a theoretical explanation for the discipline in the first place. One must therefore ask to what extent traditional justifications for the legal regulation of the employment relationship have become frayed at the edges as a result of changes in underlying political, social, economic and industrial conditions over the past half century. For example, to what extent do such developments render the orthodox rationales outmoded or redundant? In response to this question, a strand of academic literature has emerged which offers alternative theoretical support for the regulation of the work relationship.