Unpacking super-exploitation in the 21st century: the struggles of Haitian workers in Brazil

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Emerging patterns of south–south migration and rapid economic growth in developing countries have highlighted the need for new conceptual contributions accounting for the experiences of migrant workers in the Global South. The concept of super-exploitation has been among those contributions with reference to appalling working conditions and the dependence of developing countries on the export of commodities. However, this article argues that the understanding of contemporary forms of super-exploitation experienced by migrant workers remains underdeveloped. Drawing upon 42 semi-structured interviews with Haitian workers in Brazil, this study makes an innovative contribution to the conceptualisation of super-exploitation in the 21st century, particularly from the perspective of social reproduction theory. This article argues that super-exploitation can be defined more accurately as a combination of economic and non-economic forces that entangle productive–reproductive–exploitative relationships, thereby shaping the dependence of workers on wages below the value necessary for their social reproduction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)897-915
Number of pages19
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number4
Early online date9 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2022


  • super-exploitation
  • migrant workers
  • Brazil
  • dependency theory
  • social reproduction
  • commodity chains
  • labour migration
  • latin america pink tide


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