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Transnationalism, Legal Pluralism and Types of Conflicts

Contractual Norms Concerning Domestic Workers

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2011
Auteurs Antoinette Vlieger
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Transnationalism and migration are recognised contributors to legal pluralism. Scholars of legal pluralism state that in conflicts, social actors sustain their claims with arguments from coexisting legal systems. They manoeuvre between different legal systems, or contradicting norms within one system, to achieve the most satisfactory decision in a conflict. In doing so, they use norms as discursive tools. Indeed, according to data on domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, this manoeuvring with norms as discursive tools is often recognisable in conflicts between workers and their employers. However, transnational contractual norms and the legal pluralism they create are not merely discursive tools in existing conflicts; they are also regularly the cause of conflicts. Domestic workers conclude agreements with agents in their countries of origin, while employers conclude agreements with different agents in the destination countries. Both parties believe the other party has signed the same contract, while in reality that is not the case. Because of the differences between the two sets of contractual norms, these norms cause conflicts; they are not merely discursive tools. This finding calls for a division between different types of conflicts, which is proposed here for the purpose of socio-legal analysis of conflicts in general and particularly in situations of transnationalism and legal pluralism.


Antoinette Vlieger
Antoinette Vlieger is a researcher and lecturer at the Law School of the University of Amsterdam. For the last five years she has been researching conflicts between domestic workers and their employers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Her PhD thesis on this topic is to be published in fall 2011. Thereafter she hopes to do research on the question of why there is little labour protection on the Arabian Peninsula, combining this with hands-on human rights work in the Middle East.
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