Skip to content
Student completing paperwork

Understanding the lived experience of workplace coercion, exploitation and modern slavery in the community across Nottingham

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Starting: 2023
  • Funding: UK student


This project centres on advancing community-led knowledge on the lived experience of labour market coercion, exploitation and the potential for modern slavery, with an explicit emphasis on locally sourced and locally relevant research where the findings will demonstrate how community relevant needs underpin the proposal in two ways.

Firstly, it is often the case that those in enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies have no first-hand engagement with the lived experience of those subject to coercion, exploitation and modern slavery. This proposal will use a place-based methodology to explicitly emphasise the locally relevant basis of the research; in turn, this will inform, impact on and give voice to local communities of migrant workers and local organizations that work with young and vulnerable people to enable them to identify, interrupt and refer labour market coercion, exploitation and potential modern slavery. This grounded community collaborative approach will illustrate that current policy and strategy formulation are abstracted and not grounded in or informed by community experience, but rather political imperative.

The second strand centres on different experiences of the lived experience of coercion, exploitation and modern slavery. Those who experience these are vulnerable indigenous workers, documented or undocumented migrants, young people (16-18) and children. Nottingham local organisations who work with these groups, those who investigate such incidents have no voice that feeds into policy formulation and strategy. Again, a place-based approach will assemble community knowledge feeding this into policy and strategy forums both locally and nationally. For example, our research demonstrates that abstracted intelligence-based strategies override compliance and deterrence-based strategy at community and workplace levels effectively leaving communities and workers therein subject to coercion and exploitation for ‘bigger picture’ reasons (Clark 2020, 2022* Clark and Colling, 2018).

This project has been co-created and is supported by researchers from Nottingham Trent University, the University of Nottingham and partners at the Gangmaster's Labour Abuse Authority. The successful candidate for this project would be enrolled at Nottingham Trent University.

Project Aims

This project aims to understand the lived experience of coercion, exploitation, modern slavery in the envelope of Labour Market Non-Compliance at community level across Nottingham. It seeks to do so through addressing the following research questions:

  • How can a critically informed understanding of the lived experience of labour market coercion, exploitation and modern slavery improve policy and strategy in labour market regulation?
  • In what ways do enforcement officers, regulators and those subject to labour market coercion, exploitation and modern slavery have differentiated lived experiences?
  • How can new knowledge on the differentiated lived experiences feed into improved regulation of labour market non-compliance and provide better voice to the different parties?

Project Supervisors

What is Co(l)laboratory?

Co(l)laboratory is pioneering new programme supported by Nottingham Trent University, the University of Nottingham and the Universities for Nottingham partnership. The programme aims to bring together researchers, community-focused organisations and local citizens to deliver meaningful change for the people of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. All our studentships have been developed through collaborations between academics and local, community-focused organisations to shape the research projects around the priorities of local communities.

Who are we looking for??

Co(l)laboratory aims to bridge the gap between academia and communities through a holistic programme of co-created research that actively engages with public groups. As we work to build a different way of doing PhD research, we need candidates who are socially conscious and invested in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire communities to join us. If you are an inspired individual with practical experience and a passion for creating positive change, Co(l)laboratory can help you elevate your knowledge and skills and make a lasting impact.

Entry qualifications

These PhDs are targeted towards students from non-traditional backgrounds and applicants do not necessarily need a first or 2.1 degree. Applications are open to local citizens, employees and practitioners.

How to apply

Applications to all Co(l)laboratory 2023 PhD studentships must be submitted through through our online applications portal HERE. This also applies to Co(l)laboratory studentships which are hosted at the University of Nottingham. Applications open at 12pm on Thursday 22nd December 2023 and close at 12pm on Monday 6th February 2023.

Fees and funding

This is a funded PhD project for UK applicants.

Guidance and support

For more information on Co(l)laboratory PhD studentships, contact Alex Nkrumah at

Still need help?

Alex Nkrumah