Power relations in employment disputes

Emily Rose, Nicole Busby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
80 Downloads (Pure)


This article reconceptualises the operation of power relations in employment disputes. We draw on Foucault’s theory of neo-liberal governance to inform our analysis of empirical data exploring how low income workers make decisions about whether to engage with the Employment Tribunal system. Particular focus is given to the ways the state governs employment disputes to achieve ideologically driven objectives. We conclude: firstly, that power relations in employment disputes operate across a range of institutions and individuals, and that the state’s role is powerful and ongoing; secondly, that power relations operate to shape not just the objective context that workers find themselves in when experiencing an employment dispute but also workers’ subjective moral codes about appropriate courses of action to take; and thirdly, that despite the powerful influence of the state, workers continue to hold non-economic values that guide their perception of the appropriate basis for relations between employers and workers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-701
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Law and Society
Issue number4
Early online date28 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2017


  • employment relationship
  • employment tribunal
  • dispute resolution
  • labour union


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