Trade, labour, capital

This research challenge seeks to understand the mobility of people and its relation to the movement of goods, services, and money. We are also interested in how the relationship between markets and migration is imagined and represented.

The search for markets for goods, land, labour, and work has been one of the primary drivers of the movement of people, both historically and in contemporary times. In the past, this quest led to movements of people in a discernible direction, but today the flows of migration and goods are more complex in their directionality, while the movement of finance capital is critical but under-explored. Key research questions include:

  • How are these movements, and our understandings of them, gendered?
  • Do the movements of workers always go hand in hand with movement of capital?
  • Does capital always precede, with workers following? Could it be that labour flees when capital arrives?
  • When is migrant labour an object and when is it a determinant of capital’s mobility?
  • What are the implications of different forms of capitalism for these relationships?
  • What role do cities, sub-national territorial formations, and regional arrangements play in capitalism(s) and what does this mean for understanding flows of people?
  • Do crises in regimes of capital accumulation offer new opportunities that allow us to challenge anti-migrant animus?
  • Do terms like trade, labour, capital, and migration aid or hinder our understanding of their relationships?


We are interested in theoretical, empirical and methodological studies that provide insight into these issues. Our members are currently working on:

  • mapping legal frameworks for investigating supply chains in the context of achieving sustainable trade.
  • developing ‘an inclusive and sustainable Swedish labour market,’ which includes treatment of foreign workers.
  • understanding how ‘Chinese’ modes of production and management are impacting on work and employment relations in Europe.
  • investigating transatlantic exchanges between early modern authors to consider, inter alia, the representation of emerging markets.
  • understanding labour migration as being embedded within a transnational regulatory.

Linked projects:

Research Challenge Co-ordinator:

Dr Manoj Dias-AbeyLecturer in Law