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‘Traffickers and Their Victims’: Anti-Trafficking Policy in the United Kingdom

Sharapov, Kiril



This paper relies upon the ‘what’s the problem represented to be?’ approach to policy analysis to interrogate key representations of human trafficking implicit in the UK government’s anti-trafficking policy. It identifies six policy vectors, or representations, of human trafficking embedded within the policy, including organized crime, ‘illegal’ immigration, and victim assistance as three primary vectors; sexual exploitation/prostitution, poverty in countries of victims’ origin, and isolated instances of labour law infringements as three secondary vectors. In addition, a series of assumptions, which underlie the current interpretation of trafficking, are also identified. By exploring what the problem of human trafficking is represented to be, the paper also provides an insight into what remains obscured within the context of the dominant policy frameworks. In doing so, it highlights the role of state-capital entanglements in normalizing exploitation of trafficked, smuggled and ‘offshored’ labour, and critiques the UK’s anti-trafficking policy for manufacturing doubt as to the structural causes of human trafficking within the context of neoliberalism.


Sharapov, K. (2017). ‘Traffickers and Their Victims’: Anti-Trafficking Policy in the United Kingdom. Critical Sociology, 43(1), 91-111.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 3, 2015
Online Publication Date Aug 20, 2015
Publication Date Jan 1, 2017
Deposit Date Apr 26, 2017
Publicly Available Date May 3, 2017
Journal Critical Sociology
Print ISSN 0896-9205
Electronic ISSN 1569-1632
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 1
Pages 91-111
Keywords trafficking in human beings, political economy, neoliberalism, government policy, exploitation, ignorance, biopolitics
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