In Search of the Global Labor Market


This volume addresses pertinent questions related to cross-border labor migration and puts forward a “labor market” perspective that goes beyond the national frame of reference prevailing in most of the extant labor market scholarship. In four sections, the volume pulls together a number of key threads: How can we theoretically grasp “global labor markets?” What does existing empirical research reveal about the current state of affairs and the historical development of “global labor markets”, provided that they can even be regarded as “global?” How is the emergence of border-crossing labor markets influenced by existing institutions, international intermediaries and social networks? The editors have crafted a coherent volume that enriches our understanding of both globalization and labor markets.

Contributors include: Patrik Aspers, Peter-Paul Bänziger, Martin Bühler, Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick, Richard Hyman, Sven Kesselring, Eleonore Kofman, Ursula Mense-Petermann, Sigrid Quack, Alexandra Scheele, Helen Schwenken, Karen Shire, Marcel van der Linden, Thomas Welskopp, Tobias Werron, and Anna Zaharieva.

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Ursula Mense-Petermann is a Professor of Economic Sociology and the Sociology of Work at Bielefeld University, Germany. Recent publications include articles in Global Networks , Journal of Industrial Relations and critical perspectives on international business.

Thomas Welskopp († August 19, 2021), Bielefeld University, was a Professor for the History of Modern Societies. His research interests were on labor and labor movement history, comparative history of capitalism, political culture and social movements, and theoretical problems in history.

Anna Zaharieva is a Professor of Labor Economics at Bielefeld University, Germany. She gained her PhD from the University of Konstanz. Recent publications include articles in The International Economic Review, Review of Economic Dynamics and Labour Economics.

List of Figures and Tables

Notes on Contributors

 Introduction In Search of the Global Labor Market: Conceptual Meanings, Empirical Evidence and Open Questions
  Ursula Mense-Petermann, Thomas Welskopp and Anna Zaharieva

part 1
What Is Meant by Labor Exchanged in Labor Markets?
  Introduction to Part 1 What Is Meant by Labor Exchanged in Labor Markets?
  Richard Hyman and Thomas Welskopp

1 Labor Markets in History A Global View
  Marcel van der Linden

2 Free Wage Labor as the Most System-Relevant Mode for Allocating Work under Capitalism
  Thomas Welskopp

3 Reflections on Violence Some Contradictions of “Free Labor”
  Richard Hyman

4 The Role of Gender in the Making of Global Labor Markets
  Alexandra Scheele

part 2
The Market Concept and Its Heuristic Potential
  Introduction to Part 2 The Market Concept and Its Heuristic Potential
  Peter-Paul Bänziger and Ursula Mense-Petermann

5 What Is Unique about Labor Markets?
  Patrik Aspers

6 The Contributions and Limits of Market Theory for the Study of Labor Markets
  Karen Shire

7 An Object of Analysis Rather Than a Research Tool The Coproduction of Labor Markets and Nation States in the Decades around 1900
  Peter-Paul Bänziger

8 Analytical Capacities and “Blind Spots” of the Market Concept in Analyzing Cross-Border Labor Migration
  Ursula Mense-Petermann and Helen Schwenken

part 3
What Enables Labor to Cross Borders?
  Introduction to Part 3 What Enables Labor to Cross Borders?
  Sven Kesselring and Karen Shire

9 The Role of Social Networks for Job Search in National and Transnational Labor Markets
  Anna Zaharieva

10 Transnational Labor Markets and the Role of Market Makers—The Case of Eastern European Service Contract Workers in the German Meat Industry
  Ursula Mense-Petermann

11 Emergence and Demise of Labor Market Institutions A Transnational Perspective
  Sigrid Quack

part 4
What Is the Global in Labor Markets?
  Introduction to Part 4 What Is the Global in Labor Markets?
  Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick and Eleonore Kofman

12 Scales and Spaces of Global Labor Markets
  Eleonore Kofman

13 Global Institutions and Governance
  Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick

14 What Is Global about Global Markets? A Historical Sociological Approach
  Martin Bühler and Tobias Werron

  Concluding Remarks and Avenues for Future Research
  Ursula Mense-Petermann, Thomas Welskopp and Anna Zaharieva


Scholars and students from different disciplines, e. g. Economics, Sociology, History, Political Science, Social Policy, Industrial Relations, Management Studies and Migration Studies.
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