The case of guest workers: exploitation, citizenship and economic rights

Daniel Attas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Working from a "capitalist" theory of exploitation, based on a neo-classical account of economic value, I argue that guest workers are exploited. It may be objected, however, that since they are not citizens, any inequality that stems from their status as noncitizens is morally unobjectionable. Although host countries are under no moral obligation to admit guest workers as citizens, there are independent reasons that call for the extension of economic rights - the freedom of occupation in particular - to guest workers. Since the cause of unequal exchange rests in the fact that guest workers are deprived of these rights, rather than in their exclusion from citizenship per se, I conclude that they are exploited even if their exclusion from citizenship may be justified.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)73-92
Number of pages20
JournalRes Publica
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000


  • Citizenship
  • Exploitation
  • Free market
  • Guest workers
  • Rights


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