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The dynamics of contemporary slavery and conflict : agency, asylum and accountability

Kidd, Alicia Sheridan


Alicia Sheridan Kidd


Simon (Simon T.) Green


This thesis offers a new approach to understanding contemporary slavery by focusing on the root causes rather than on the end result of the enslavement. Adopting this approach allows for a move away from the current tendency of homogenising victims of contemporary slavery as having been ‘vulnerable in some way’ prior to their exploitation and identifies precisely what those vulnerabilities are and from where they derive.

The first-hand accounts of victims of contemporary slavery used in this research highlight the failings of current understandings of the ‘ideal victim’ which generate ideas of weak and passive individuals who find themselves caught in this crime. The notion of the ‘ideal victim’ does not reflect the experiences of a ‘real victim’, and this research explores how a person’s agency interacts with overarching structures to lead them towards their exploitation.

The research compares the stories gathered via in-depth interviews with individuals who have experienced conflict to those of individuals who have experienced both conflict and contemporary slavery. By giving voice to those whose stories are rarely heard, this thesis identifies the point at which those who flee conflict become vulnerable to contemporary slavery. It finds that it is rare that victims of contemporary slavery experience a complete removal of agency in the lead up to their exploitation. Instead, they experience a limiting of their agency as a result of the impact of large scale structures, such as conflict. It is this restriction of agency in the face of inherently risky options that puts them at risk of contemporary slavery. These findings have policy implications in requiring action to identify and tackle the issues most likely to limit a person’s agency and lead them into making active, but not entirely autonomous, choices.


Kidd, A. S. (2018). The dynamics of contemporary slavery and conflict : agency, asylum and accountability. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 21, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Social sciences
Public URL
Additional Information School of Education and Social Sciences, The University of Hull
Award Date Oct 1, 2018


Thesis (3 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2018 Kidd, Alicia Sheridan. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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