Rethinking Labour Markets



The purpose of this chapter is to provide a theoretical basis upon which the counter-intuitive results in preceding chapters, showing the relative stability of employment in the UK, can be explained. This draws on a range of sources within critical and heterodox political economy: Karl Marx and Karl Polanyi, as well as contemporary theorists such as Kevin Doogan, Ben Fine and Lise Vogel. It presents a concept of a mutual interdependence of employers and employees, showing how this leads to contradictory pressures on employers, one impelling them towards greater flexibility the other to greater efforts to retain employees. In addition, long-term reproductive imperatives shape how labour markets work under capitalism. These processes are affected by gender divisions, the role of the legislation and the state more generally. Finally, it is argued that distinct labour markets are structured in distinctive ways, necessitating concrete examination of specific forms of employment rather than extrapolation from particular instances of precarity. The chapter suggests that approaches to the analysis of labour markets drawing on critical and heterodox political economy, particularly those rooted in a Marxist approach, offer substantial advantages over conventional views in coming to terms with the relative stability of employment in the UK.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BusinessUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK

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