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Index of Volumes

VOLUME 142, NUMBER 4 2003/4

Special issue




Discrimination and equality at work: A review of the concepts

Manuela TOMEI

The first part of this article examines the scope of the notion of discrimination in law with particular reference to the ILO's Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111). The discussion covers not only direct and indirect discrimination grounded in the conventional legal categories of sex, race, disability, etc., but also the socially constructed notion of merit and the effects of "intersection" on individuals combining several identities targeted by discrimination. The second part looks at the conceptual and practical implications of different approaches to equality of treatment and opportunity, namely, individual justice, social justice, and equality as recognition of diversity.

Collective bargaining and equality: Making connections

Adelle BLACKETT and Colleen SHEPPARD

Collective bargaining and the elimination of discrimination in employment are egalitarian, democratic and mutually reinforcing goals. But how far do they meet expectations? Being limited largely to formal-sector workers, the right to collective bargaining eludes most workers, notably those in the informal sector in developing countries; among those excluded are a disproportionate number of workers traditionally discriminated against. With the gap between collective bargaining and equality growing, the authors explore how unequal access to collective representation can result in one principle effectively preventing recognition of the other, before examining state labour regulatory initiatives and equality promotion through collective bargaining.

Inequality at work in the informal economy: Key issues and illustrations


In many countries, laws forbidding discrimination at work reach a tiny minority of the workforce, using crudely essentialized categories like colour or sex. In practice, however, discrimination is a complex expression of social regulation and, ultimately, identity, which determines the ideologies and norms that both employers and employees default to in the absence of state regulation (e.g. caste, race, religion). The forms of authority through which identities are created and evolve originate outside the economy and operate both outside it and inside it. Against this background, Harriss-White looks at how institutional actors and market forces can address discrimination at work.

Equal opportunities practices and enterprise performance: A comparatiave investigation on Australian and British data

Virginie PEROTIN, Andrew ROBINSON and Joanne LOUNDES

Though generally more widespread than might have been expected, equal opportunities policies and practices are less common among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) than among larger firms, especially when the policies are not mandatory, as in the United Kingdom or for the smallest firms in Australia. The authors' investigation does not suggest that more coercive legislation forces enterprises to adopt practices that negatively affect their performance. On the contrary, equal opportunities policies are associated with higher productivity in all groups except British SMEs. The positive effect is strongest among the enterprises subject to the most stringent regulatory requirements.

Racial discrimination: Theories, facts and policy


This article discusses the relevance of major theoretical and empirical findings in assessing the impact of race-based discrimination on the labour market. The author reviews how various forms of socio-economic interaction and intergenerational propagation mechanisms are evaluated. However, debate continues over the interpretation of the research, notably whether disparities express current discrimination or the residue of past discrimination and/or human capital deficiencies. He reviews the policy implications, also considering the impact of human capital accumulation, housing segregation, and racial discrimination as a factor explaining the male/female wage gap. He concludes that policy intervention should be multidimensional, with broad social involvement.


The minimum wage as a tool to combat discrimination and promote equality

The minimum wage (MW) can improve the position of disadvantaged groups by reducing the incidence of low pay and promoting pay equality. Some relevant contentious questions of policy are summarized here: issues concerning coverage (which sectors included/excluded, the preponderance of the low-paid in sectors where workers are poorly represented and organized, the relevance of a MW in the informal sector); the controversy surrounding the impact of the MW on employment, notably whether it has greater impact on the composition than on the level of employment; and causal factors in the male/female wage gap.

Index for 2003



Book reviews


ISSN 1564-913X

Updated by MCN. Approved by IA . Last update: 27 September 2004