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Reserve army of labor and migration

Migration A–Z

R

  1. Marie Christine Duggan

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm451

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Duggan, M. C. 2013. Reserve army of labor and migration. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

Abstract

For exploitation by capital, Karl Marx 1990 argued, workers must be free in the double sense – free of possessions, but also politically free. Yet, the 19th-century situation that Marx analyzed included Irish immigrants who formed a subsection of the British working class with fewer political rights. Marx began with a discussion of how economic growth under capitalism creates unemployment, which evolved into a discussion of five components of the working class: army of labor, floating reserve, stagnant pool, latent reserve, and paupers. While Marx never explicitly mentioned the lack of political rights, he did suggest that Irish migrants in the British working class were trapped in precarious stagnant pool jobs. This essay will examine Marx's theory of the multisector reserve army, and draw out the political implications for undocumented immigrants in modern advanced economies.

Keywords:

  • labor;
  • labor supply;
  • political economy;
  • class