Are workers dominated?

Tom O'Shea*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article undertakes a republican analysis of power in the workplace and labour market in order to determine whether workers are dominated by employers. Civic republicans usually take domination to be subjection to an arbitrary power to interfere with choice. But when faced with labour disputes over what choices it is normal for workers to make for themselves, these accounts of domination struggle to determine whether employers possess the power to interfere. I propose an alternative capabilitarian conception of domination as the arbitrary power to determine access to capabilities necessary for relationships of equality between citizens. This approach allows us to diagnose domination in the workplace and the labour market but does not capture unfreedom arising from the wider socio-structural position of workers. Thus, I supplement this capabilitarian account of the domination of workers with a structural account of dominating power, which reveals a richer set of conditions under which employers dominate workers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Ethics and Social Philosophy
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019


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