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Are Human Rights Becoming Burdensome for Our Economies? The Role of Slavery-Like Practices in the Development of World Economics and in the Context of Modern Society


  • Tiziana LUISE

    (Bank of Italy, Rome)


The article analyzes some recent episodes concerning slavery-like practices and human trafficking reports. The problem seems particularly crucial in the industrialized world where the flow of illegal migrants is directed. After a summary of the international covenants concerning slavery and its unethical aspects, a sociological explanation of the phenomenon will be proposed. Besides the obvious economical benefits of disposing of low-wage workers in a highly competitive environment, we will try to understand the «social functions» of slavery today. The structure of modern society is the result of a long historical evolution. Yet, modern society is also full of contradictions. Social stability and cohesion are based upon a hierarchical organization in which some individuals or groups occupy the lowest levels of the social ladder. Today, this position is covered by the «new slaves». In this perspective, slavery appears to be both «necessary» and «compulsory» in enhancing social unity and identity.

Suggested Citation

  • Tiziana LUISE, 2005. "Are Human Rights Becoming Burdensome for Our Economies? The Role of Slavery-Like Practices in the Development of World Economics and in the Context of Modern Society," Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Sociali, Vita e Pensiero, Pubblicazioni dell'Universita' Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, vol. 113(3), pages 461-475.
  • Handle: RePEc:vep:journl:y:2005:v:113:i:3:p:461-475

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    slavery; slaves; society; social; economy; labor; identity;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values


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