24 Comp. Lab. L. & Pol'y. J. 321 (2002-2003)
International Labor Standards: Quality of Information and Measures of Progress in Combating Forced Labor

handle is hein.journals/cllpj24 and id is 333 raw text is: INTERNATIONAL LABOR STANDARDS:
QUALITY OF INFORMATION AND MEASURES
OF PROGRESS IN COMBATING FORCED
LABOR
Kevin Balest
... we worry that the study of contemporary slavery is more of a
protoscience than  a science. Its data   are uncorroborated, its
methodology unsystematic. Few researchers work in the area, so the
field lacks the give and take that would filter out subjectivity. Bales
himself acknowledges all this. As we debated his definitions of slavery,
he told us, There is a part of me that looks forward to being attacked
by other researchers for my interpretations, because then a viable field
of inquiry will have developed.
Scientific American, April 20021
I.  INTRODUCTION-THE CHALLENGES
Social science data is notoriously loose and slippery. It primarily
concerns the behaviors and attitudes of human beings, who are, as a
species, unreliable, confused, mercurial, and dynamic. As researchers
we benefit from the fact that people act out their erratic ways within
remarkably stable patterns-the most stable of which are those
universal social institutions of government, religion, economics,
education, and family.   Slavery is not itself a universal social
institution, as it has not been found in all societies, but it nearly made
the list. In the very recent history of our species (meaning the last
5,000 years) it has been a constant. For much of that history, slavery
was much easier to measure than it is today. When it was commonly
accepted as a natural social and economic relationship, even
t I currently wear three hats: Professor of Sociology, Roehampton University London;
President, Free the Slaves, Washington, D.C.; Visiting Professor, Croft Institute for International
Studies, University of Mississippi.
1. The Peculiar Institution, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, Apr. 2002, at 4.

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