Beyond Trafficking and Slavery: Feature

Week two activity: evaluating root causes, part two

What causes forced and precarious labour? Historical wrongs? Racism and discrimination? Decide what matters most.

1 June 2018, 12.01am
Adriano Giulio Giovanelli. All rights reserved

Taking effective action against forced and precarious labour requires a clear understanding of the underlying root causes which are behind global patterns of labour exploitation and vulnerability. This is not an easy task since there are any number of factors which might be included here.

In this first activity, we want you to reflect on what these root causes might look like, and which factors you regard as playing the most significant role in creating favourable conditions for labour exploitation. This is not a graded exercise which has one right answer. We instead want you to make up your own mind regarding the most significant contributions.

We therefore ask that you assign a colour to each of the factors identified below based on your assessment of their overall contribution to creating and sustaining forced and precarious labour. In future weeks we will ask you to complete similar activities when it comes to thinking through different solutions and approaches. Any potential solution which fails to grapple with major root causes is unlikely to be effective.


Major contribution: red
Moderate contribution: orange
Minor contribution: yellow

Root causes:

  1. Migration and the limits of asylum.
  2. Ongoing legacies of historical injustice.
  3. Patriarchy, misogyny and policing of sexuality.
  4. Poverty, vulnerability, and deprivation.
  5. Racism, stigma, and discrimination.
  6. Restrictions upon movements.

This list is by no means exhaustive, so we would also encourage you to make a case for why other factors should also be included.

Activity instructions

  1. Click on the activity so it opens in a full screen.
  2. Assign a colour to each factor by clicking that colour on the strip next to that factor block.
  3. Click on the factors block to show additional information. To exit additional information, click of the text “exit” found at the top right-hand side of the additional information square.
  4. When you are finished, take a screenshot of your answers for future reference. We will be returning to them later.
  5. Push ESC. To exit full-screen mode.
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The course was originally released on the platform in 2018, where it has now been archived. As of 2021 it is available on openDemocracy.

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