Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • International Journal of Law in Context, Volume 8, Issue 1
  • March 2012, pp. 1-25

Coercion and the labour contract: revisiting Glasbrook Brothers and the political fiction of Lewis Jones

  • Melanie L. Williams (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 February 2012

In his tale of the struggles and privations of the mining community in the industrial south of Wales in the early decades of the twentieth century, Lewis Jones, ex-miner and socialist activist, put aside the usual tools of political activism – of oratory and pamphlet propaganda – and instead turned to fiction as a means of educating and mobilising the political energy of the workforce. In doing so, Jones represented the extent to which the law was pivotal to the social organisation delivering injustice to working people. When one turns to history and to the legal record, the contestable accounts, elisions and absences from the record speak eloquently of the extent to which selective doctrine contributes to that injustice. The resultant message resonates with debates on the relationship between society, politics and the rule of law itself.

Corresponding author
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Jairus Banaji (2003) ‘The Fictions of Free Labour: Contract, Coercion, and So-Called Unfree Labour’, Historical Materialism 11(3): 6995.

Daniel H Cole . (2001) ‘“An Unqualified Human Good”: E. P. Thompson and the Rule of Law’, Journal of Law and Society 28(2): 177203.

Hugh Collins (1993) The Law of Contract. London: Butterworths.

Joanne Conaghan (1987) ‘Critical Labour Law: The American Contribution’, Journal of Law and Society 14(3): 334–35.

Richard H Fallon . (1997) ‘“The Rule of Law” as a Concept in Constitutional Discourse’, Columbia Law Review 97(1): 156.

Robert Fine (1994) ‘The Rule of Law and Muggletonian Marxism: The Perplexities of Edward Thompson’, Journal of Law and Society 21(2): 193213.

Stanley Fish (1989) Doing What Comes Naturally. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

W. Burnett Harvey (1961) ‘The Rule of Law in Historical Perspective’, Michigan Law Review 59(4): 487500.

Robert J Holton . (1981) ‘Marxist Theories of Social Change and the Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism’, Theory and Society 10(6): 833–67.

Linda Hutcheon (1988) A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction. London: Routledge.

Nigel Simmonds (1985) ‘Pashukanis and Liberal Jurisprudence’, Journal of Law and Society 12(2): 135–51.

Paul Thomas (1985) ‘Mixed Feelings: Raymond Williams and George Orwell’, Theory and Society 14(4): 419–44.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Journal of Law in Context
  • ISSN: 1744-5523
  • EISSN: 1744-5531
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-law-in-context
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *