Reinterpreting law's silence: examining the interconnections between legal doctrine and the rise of immaterial labour

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Recent years have seen a rise in immaterial labour in the United Kingdom and other developed economies. Sociological explanatory accounts of these developments focus primarily on economic drivers. Little, if any, inquiry has been made into the potential role of law. This article seeks to identify the aspects of law that may be constitutive of employer and worker perceptions of the acceptability (or otherwise) of employer demands for immaterial labour. Two key contributions are made. The first is a setting out of a methodological approach to exploring the constitutive effect of law that emphasises the internal operation of legal doctrine as critical to understanding its sociological implications. The second is the development of substantive knowledge on the potential role of law vis-à-vis the rise of immaterial labour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-611
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Law and Society
Issue number4
Early online date6 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020


  • legal doctrine
  • role of law
  • labour law

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