Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Property in Labour and the Limits of Contract

Document type Book chapter
Author Mummé, Claire
Editor Haskell, John
Editor Mattei, Ugo
Book None
Publisher Edward Elgar Publishing;
Date 2015
Pages 400-421


The argument of this paper is that a contractual framework obscures more than the inequality of bargaining power between the parties – it also obscures the proprietary basis of the exchange. The employment contract is a legal mechanism designed to transfer wages and rights of control over workers’ capacity to labour. Conceived of in this way, the employment relationship is fundamentally a contest for control over property (labour power) waged through contract. For this reason, analysing the property parameters of the employment relationship opens up another window for examining the strengths and weaknesses of regulating employment through contract. -- From author's introduction