Subordination vs domination: Exploring the differences

Guy Davidov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Subordination has long been a key concept in labour law theory. It aims to depict a central characteristic of employment relationships that explains (at least partially) the need for labour laws. More recently there is an increasing interest among labour law scholars with the concept of domination as developed in republican theory. On the face of it, being dominated by an employer appears to be similar to being subordinated to an employer. To assess the relevance and usefulness of domination for labour law, I begin by providing an account of subordination and its different possible meanings. I then examine the different components of the definitions of domination developed by Philip Pettit and by Frank Lovett (with some reference to other scholars), and explore the similarities with, and differences from, the concept of subordination. I conclude that some key parts of domination - most notably the existence of arbitrary power - are not an optimal fit to describe employment relationships and justify labour law. In this respect domination cannot serve as a general theory of labour law. Nonetheless, republican theories are certainly helpful in providing normative support for specific labour laws as well as some other concrete benefits.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)365-389
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Kluwer Law International BV, The Netherlands.


Dive into the research topics of 'Subordination vs domination: Exploring the differences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this