Call for papers – Nordic Journal of Criminology

The exploitation of migrant workers in the Nordics

While the Nordic countries are well-known for their equality, welfare systems, and good working conditions based on collective agreements, migrant workers are nonetheless exploited in these countries in fields that include construction, hospitality service, logistics, transportation, horticulture, agriculture and more.

Researchers have studied labour exploitation as different forms of criminalized practices – such as human trafficking and severe usury – but also as less severe forms of exploitation and violations of labour law. These include deception or pressure regarding working conditions, accommodation, underpayment; overlong working hours for little or no pay; and threats of violence or other punishment.

Furthermore, researchers have documented how the exploitation is enabled by the migrant workers’ often vulnerable position. These workers might be unaware of working rights or where to seek help. They may be indebted to the employer for the cost of their journey. And they may be at the mercy of employers who control both their residence and work permit.

Facing different forms of labour exploitation, the Nordic states have developed various national policies to counter the exploitation of migrant workers. These include action plans and laws against human trafficking and human exploitation, as well as multi-agency collaborations to combat the exploitation of migrant workers. Other than in Finland, there have been very few convictions overall in the Nordic countries for trafficking for forced labor and other forms of labor exploitation. One reason for this may be that most anti-trafficking efforts have been focused on women who are forced into sex work rather than on men, who are the main victims of labor exploitation.

Topic areas

This special issue welcomes papers that explore or theorize the relationship between the ‘policy intentions’ of Nordic states – how these policies are interpreted and transformed into legal action, crime prevention and social work – or about the way these policy intentions are seen by the migrant workers. For example, how do these workers experience the response by trade unions and other authorities to their exploitation, whether in terms of victim support or access to social justice?

To advance the scientific understanding of the various ways that the Nordic nations respond politically and legally to the exploitation of migrant workers, this special issue of the Nordic Journal of Criminology invites original scholarly articles on any of the suggested themes below:

  • Differences and similarities between the Nordic nations’ policy responses
  • The production of subjects within policy intentions and law practices
  • The engagement of civil society, such as trade unions or local and international NGOs
  • The relationship between the policy intentions and actions within labour exploitation and migration
  • Migrant workers’ experience of policy responses and practices by different authorities (e.g. the police, immigration authorities, labour authorities, etc.)
  • Processes of victimization and/or criminalisation stemming from human trafficking, labour exploitation and the like

Submission information and deadline

Deadline for submitting a full paper: March 31, 2023.

Papers are to be submitted through the Nordic Journal of Criminology submission site:

If you are interested in submitting a paper or have any questions, please contact the guest editors of this special issue: Marlene Spanger, Aalborg University ( and Isabel Schoultz, Lund University ( or the editor-in-chief of Nordic Journal of Criminology Sébastien Tutenges, Lund University (