The Challenge of Measuring Slavery

Kevin Bales

in Understanding Global Slavery

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2005 | ISBN: 9780520245068
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932074 | DOI:
The Challenge of Measuring Slavery

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The criminalization of slavery leads to a number of problems in measuring slavery. The first problem is the basic fact that criminals conceal their activities, often going to great lengths to do so. Second, following a long history of more visible and legal slavery, societies have been slow to clearly define what now constitutes slavery. This chapter discusses some of the topics that must be resolved conceptually before we can quantify and measure slavery and other forms of forced labor more objectively. It suggests that the primary criterion for the assessment of social science should be predictive validity. The small test of what predicts slavery shows that generally accepted notions of causation and relationship gathered from the field can be examined. Yet, even in this test, the dependent variable is the most problematic, being constructed of hundreds of unrelated pieces of information.

Keywords: slavery; forced labor; predictive validity; social science; causation; relationship

Chapter.  10021 words. 

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change

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