Social Sciences
School of Education & Social Sciences

Professor Kevin Bales


Kevin Bales

Professor of Contemporary Slavery
Deputy Director of WISE

WISE, Oriel Chambers

Phone: +44 (0)1482 305174


Kevin Bales is Professor of Contemporary Slavery at the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation. He was Co-Founder of Free the Slaves, the US Sister organization of Anti-Slavery International and is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Roehampton University in London. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the International Cocoa Initiative. His book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy published in 1999, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and has now been published in ten other languages. Archbishop Desmond Tutu called it “a well researched, scholarly and deeply disturbing expose of modern slavery”. In 2008 he was invited to address the Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Paris, and to join in the planning of the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative.

In 2006 his work was named one of the top “100 World-Changing Discoveries” by the Association of British Universities. The Italian edition of Disposable People won the Premio Viareggio for services to humanity in 2000, and the documentary based on his work, which he co-wrote, Slavery: A Global Investigation , won the Peabody Award for 2000 and two Emmy Awards in 2002. Other awards include the Laura Smith Davenport Human Rights Award in 2005; the Judith Sargeant Murray Award for Human Rights in 2004; and the Human Rights Award of the University of Alberta in 2003. He was also awarded a Prime Mover Fellowship by the Hunt Alternatives Fund in 2009 and a Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa , by Loyola University Chicago, in May 2010.

He was a Trustee of Anti-Slavery International and a consultant to the United Nations Global Program on Trafficking of Human Beings. He has been invited to advise the US, British, Irish, Norwegian, and Nepali governments, as well as the governments of the Economic Community of West African States, on the formulation of policy on slavery and human trafficking. He edited an Anti-Human Trafficking Toolkit for the United Nations, and published, with the Human Rights Center at Berkeley, a report on forced labour in the USA, and completed a two-year study of human trafficking into the US for the National Institute of Justice. His book Understanding Global Slavery was published in September 2005. He is the author of New Slavery: A Reference Handbook (revised 2nd ed. 2005). In 2007 he published Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves , a roadmap for the global eradication of slavery which won the 2011 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Promoting World Order. In 2008, with Zoe Trodd, he published To Plead Our Own Cause: Personal Stories by Today’s Slaves ; and with eight Magnum photographers, Documenting Disposable People: Contemporary Global Slavery . In 2009 he published with Ron Soodalter The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today , the first full exploration of contemporary slavery in the United States. He is currently writing a book on the relationship between slavery and environmental destruction, and with Jody Sarich a book on forced marriage.

He gained his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics.

Selected Publications

Authored Books

  • Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves, University of California Press, September 2007.
  • Winner of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Promoting World Order 2011 ($100,000); also published in Japanese and Finnish.
  • Understanding Global Slavery, University of California Press, October, 2005.
  • Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, University of California Press, April 1999. Also published in Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, Norwegian, Russian, Turkish, Korean, Arabic, and Japanese. Winner of the 2000 Premio Internazionale Viareggio Versilia, literary prize (approximately $6,000) awarded to a book that promotes social justice and peace. Revised Edition published in 2004; “10th Anniversary” revised edition to be published in 2012.
  • New Slavery: A Reference Handbook, part of the Contemporary World Issues Series published by ABC-Clio, September, 2000. Revised edition published in 2005.

Co-Authored or Edited Books

  • The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today, University of California Press, 2009, with Ron Soodalter (co-author).
  • Modern Slavery, OneWorld Publications, 2009, with Zoe Trodd and Alex Williamson
  • To Plead Our Own Cause: Personal Stories by Today’s Slaves, Cornell University Press, 2008, with Zoe Trodd (co-editor).
  • Documenting Disposable People: Contemporary Global Slavery, Hayward Publishing, 2008, 158 pages, Project to survey contemporary global slavery carried out with eight Magnum photographers: Abbas, Ian Berry, Stuart Franklin, Jim Goldberg, Susan Meiselas, Paolo Pellegrin, Chris Steele-Perkins, and Alex Webb.
  • Traffik, Powerhouse Books, 2008, Text for photographic project on survivors of trafficking into sexual enslavement with photographer Norman Jean Roy.
  • Slavery Today – A Groundwork Guide, Groundwood Books, 2008, with R.T. Cornell (co-author). Also published in Korean, German, and Swedish.
  • Anti-Trafficking Toolkit prepared for the United Nations Global Program on Trafficking in Persons, Centre for International Crime Prevention, Vienna, 2002, with Angelika Kartusch and Burkhard Dammann (@100,000 words total)
  • The Social Survey Movement in Historical Perspective 1880-1930, Cambridge University Press, 1991, with Martin Bulmer and K.K. Sklar (co-editors).

Book Chapters

  • "Slavery in its Contemporary Manifestations” in The Legal Understanding of Slavery: From the Historical to the Contemporary, Jean Allain (ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012
  • "The Paradox of Women, Children, and Slavery” in Trafficking in Slavery’s Wake: Law and the Experience of Women and Children in Africa, Benjamin N. Lawrence and Richard L. Roberts (eds), Ohio University Press, 2012, pp 241-253, with Jody Sarich.
  • "The Anti-Slavery Movement: Making Rights Reality” in From Human Trafficking to Human Rights: Reframing Contemporary Slavery, Alison Brysk and Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick (eds), Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012, with Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick.
  • "Anti-Slavery and the Redefinition of Justice” in Global Civil Society 2011 – Globality and the Absence of Justice, Martin Albrow and Hakan Sekinelgin, London: Palgrave McMillan, 2011, pp. 64-77, with Jody Sarich.
  • "Afterword – The End of Child Slavery?” in Child Slavery Now: A Contemporary Reader, Gary Craig (Editor) Bristol, Policy Press, 2010.
  • “Five Themes of Failure” Preface to Unfinished Business: A Comparative Survey of Historical and Contemporary Slavery by Joel Quirk, Paris, UNESCO Publications, 2009
  • "All of it is Now” in Many Middle Passages: Forced Migration and the Making of the Modern World, Cassandra Pybus, Emma Christopher, Marcus Rediker (eds.), University of California Press 2007, with Zoe Trodd, pp. 222-34.
  • "Physical and Mental Health Aspects of Rehabilitating Children Freed from Slavery” in Child Labour Research, Bureau of International Labour Affairs, 2007, with Judy Hyde and Marc Levin.
  • "The New Slavery” in The Moral Life: An Introductory Reader in Ethics and Literature, Louis P. Pojman (ed.) Oxford University Press, 3rd edition, 2007.
  • "Foreword” in Buying Freedom: The Ethics and Economics of Slave Redemption, K. Anthony Appiah and Martin Bunzl (eds.) Princeton University Press, 2007.
  • "How We Will End Slavery in the 21st Century” in Slavery Then and Now (2 Volumes Commemorating the 200th anniversary of the end of the slave trade in the British Empire), Jubilee Publishing, 2007.
  • Non-State Actors and the Challenge of Slavery” in Centre Stage: Non-state Actors in the Human Rights Universe, George Andreopoulos, Zehra F. Kabasakal Arat, Peter Juviler (eds.) Kumarian Press, 2006.
  • "Racism and Modern Slavery” in Dimensions of Racism – Anti-Discrimination Series Vol. 1, Kevin Boyle (ed.) United Nations (UNESCO) Publications, 2005, with Jessica Reitz, pp. 99-110.
  • "Because She Looks Like a Child” in Gender through the Prism of Difference, Maxine Baca, Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, Michael A. Messner.(eds.) Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 193-202.
  • "Stolen Goods” in Die Zehn Gebote, Hrsg. Klaus Biesenbach für das Deutsches Hygiene Museum Hatje Cantz Verlag Dresden 2004.
  • "Because She Looks Like a Child” in Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy, Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild (eds.) Metropolitan Press, 2003.
  • "The Construction of Biblical Certainty: Textual Optimism and the United Bible Societies” in Studies in the Early Text of the Gospels and Acts, D.G.K. Taylor (ed.) University of Birmingham Press, 1999, with Kent Clarke.
  • "The Dual Labour Market of the Illicit Economy” in Sociological Theory, Randall Collins (ed.) Jossey-Bass, 1984.
  • "The Nicaraguan Prison System,” in The World’s Prisons, The Howard League, 1991, with V. Baumann.


  • "Winning the Fight: Eradicating Slavery in the Modern Age,” Harvard International Review, Vol. 31, No. 1, Spring 2009.
  • "Investigating Human Trafficking: Challenges, Lessons Learned, and Best Practices,” FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Vol. 76, No. 4, April 2007, with Steven Lize.
  • “The Next Step in the Fight Against Human Trafficking: Outlawing the Trade in Slave-Made Goods,” Intercultural Human Rights Law Review, Vol. 1, June 2006, with R. T. Cornell, pp. 211-248.
  • "Hidden Slaves: Forced Labour in the United States,” Berkeley Journal of International Law Volume 23, Number 1, 2005, with Laurel Fletcher and Eric Stover, pp. 47-111.
  • "Slavery and the Human Right to Evil,” Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 3 No. 1, March 2004, pp. 53-63.
  • "International Labour Standards: Quality of Information and Measures of Progress in Combating Forced Labour,” Comparative Labour Law and Policy, Vol. 24, No. 2, Winter 2004
  • "The Social Psychology of Modern Slavery,” Scientific American, April, 2002.
  • "Slavery and the Shadow Economy,” Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 53, No.2, Spring 2000.
  • "No One Shall Be Held in Slavery or Servitude: A Critical Analysis of International Slavery Agreements,” Human Rights Review, Vol. 2, No. 2, Jan. 2001, with Peter Robbins.
  • "Expendable People: Slavery in the Age of Globalization” Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 53, No. 2, Spring 2000, 461-485.
  • "Globalization and Slavery,” International Dialogue, Vol. 1, Summer 1999.
  • "What Predicts Human Trafficking?” Proceedings of the United Nations Conference on Human Trafficking, Verona, October, 1999.
  • "Popular Reactions to Sociological Research: The Case of Charles Booth,” Sociology, Vol. 33 No.1, February 1999.
  • "Measuring the Propensity to Volunteer,” Social Policy and Administration, Vol. 30, No. 3, September 1996.
  • "Lives and Labour in the emergence of organised social research 1886-1907,” The Journal of Historical Sociology, Vol. 9 No.2, July 1996.
  • "Television and the Cultivation of Adolescent Occupational Expectation,” Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology, Vol. 16, No. 1 May 1988, with John Ryan and Michael Hughes.
  • "Reclamation of Antique Data: Charles Booth’s Poverty Study One Hundred Years On,” Urban History Yearbook, 1986.
  • "Determinants in the Perception of Visual Blight” Human Ecology, Vol. 13 No. 3, 371-387, 1985.
  • "Nicole Oresme and Medieval Social Science,” American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 42, No. 1, January 1983.
  • "Contrast and Complementarity in Three Theories of Criminal Behaviour,” Deviant Behaviour, Vol. 3, No. 2, 1982.
  • "Between Philosophy and Science: An Interview with Jurgen Habermas,” Quarterly Journal of Ideology, Vol. 5, No. 2, Summer 1981, with Maurizia Tovo.
  • "Implementing Sociology in Secondary Schools,” Sociological Spectrum, 2:177, 1981, with Larry W. DeBord.
  • "What Introductory Sociology Students Learn,” Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology, Vol. 8, No. 2, November 1980.
  • "Cumulative Scaling of Paternalistic Behaviour in Primates,” The American Naturalist, September 1980, Vol. 115, No. 3, 454-461.
  • "Who Shall Cross Over? Changing Country Music,” Journal of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Vol. 3, No. 1, January 1980, with John Ryan.
  • "Experiential Learning: A Review and Annotated Bibliography,” Journal of Cooperative Education, Vol. 15, No. 3, Autumn 1979.
  • "The Single Parent Family: Aspirations and Academic Achievement,” Southern Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 13:4, Autumn 1979.

Research Reports

A large number of research surveys and reports for governments, charitable and public interest organisations, of which the following are the more substantial examples:

  • "Recovering Childhoods: Combating Child Trafficking in Northern India,” A Report to the United States Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, October 2005, (114 pages).
  • "Hidden Slaves: Forced Labour in the United States,” Nation report to the International Labour Office for the Global Survey of Forced Labour, with the Human Rights Centre, U. of California Berkeley, Sept. 2004.
  • "Trafficking in Persons in the United States,” A Report to the National Institute of Justice, submitted April, 2004. (Grant # 2001-IJ-CX-0027) (67,500 words).
  • "The Use of Video in Educating Charity Supporters,” Oxfam, February 1999.
  • "Charity Giving and Public Support for Legacies to Development Agencies,” Oxfam, three surveys and three reports: 1998 and 1999.
  • "Social Needs Assessment Survey,” for Church of England Diocese of Guildford, August 1997.
  • "Religious participation and charitable support,” for SHELTER, Spring 1996.
  • "Measuring the propensity to volunteer,” for Oxfam, Spring 1995.
  • People Need Homes: The Findings - A National Programme of Local Research and Action on Housing and Homelessness, (with Niall Cooper), Churches National Housing Coalition, 1995.
  • "Survey of Workers in the IT Industry,” for the trade union M.S.F., Spring 1994
  • “Giving patterns and charitable participation,” survey, qualitative research, and report, for Oxfam, October 1993.
  • "Workers, work issues, and communications,” survey and report for the trade union G.M.B 1992.
  • "Arts, Culture and Entertainment in Exeter - Public and Business Use and Perceptions,” survey and report for Exeter Council, June 1991, with Tim Hunter.
  • "Evaluation of the Emergency Contraception Pharmacy Healthcare Scheme,” survey and report for the Family Planning Association, April 1990, with Dawn Snape.
  • "Restructuring for the 1990’s,” survey and consultative report for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, 1990, with Simon Pell.

Publications in Other Media

  • Text, Data sets, and materials in BBC Domesday Optical Discs, (LV-ROM) equivalent to 1000 pages. November 1986.
  • Editorial Introduction to Microfilm Edition of the Booth Archive Materials, Research Publications Ltd., 1988.
  • ‘The British Crime Survey for Schools’, (booklet and computer files), HMSO/ESRC, 1989.


  • “Slavery: A Global Investigation” TrueVision Productions 2000 (winner of the 2001 Peabody for Documentary; winner of the 2002 Emmy Award for best documentary long-form, and the 2002 Emmy Award for research)
  • "The New Abolitionists” Mayfield Productions 2002
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