Dr Christian Schemmel

ISRF Political Economy Fellow 2021-22

Dr Christian Schemmel

ISRF Political Economy Fellow 2021-22

Christian Schemmel ISRF

Christian Schemmel is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Manchester, where he is affiliated to the Manchester Centre for Political Theory (Mancept), and the Work and Equalities Institute. Before joining the University of Manchester, he worked at the European University Institute, Florence, and Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main. His main research interests are theories of social justice and equality, liberalism and republicanism, global justice, self-respect and other self-evaluative attitudes, and issues at the intersection of political theories of justice and equality with political economy: political theory of the welfare state, workplace and economic democracy, and the social significance, and just regulation, of financial remuneration, especially at the lower end (his ISRF project).

His monograph Justice and Egalitarian Relations is in production with Oxford University Press US, and will appear in early 2021.

Making All Work Pay: Just Wage Regulation

Why, if at all, are wage guarantees, including direct minimum wage legislation, justified? The most commonly cited reason is that they guarantee a minimally sufficient income, which serves to meet people’s basic needs. But there may be other ways of achieving these aims: unconditional basic incomes, tax credits, and states topping up low wages. Are there more intrinsic, direct reasons to want guaranteed wage floors? Such reasons might pertain to what minimum wages do to, and say about, the quality of employer-employee-relationships; and/or what they express about how society in general values the productive contribution of those at the lower end of the pay scale – the recognition they receive for what they do. Do minimum wages plausibly express such recognition? And if so, is this just a contingent socio-psychological fact that could be changed? 

This research project in political philosophy addresses the justification of wage regulation, with a focus on minimum wage guarantees. There is very little research in political philosophy on this pressing real-world problem. This is surprising, and deplorable, as low pay work is widespread in advanced, globally integrated and highly technologically developed societies in recent decades, despite unprecedented, and growing, material abundance. 

The project aims to interrogate the special significance of work and its adequate remuneration by integrating political philosophy with relevant literature in comparative political science and political economy on low wage regulation, and social psychology and public health studies on the effect of low pay. Its substantive hypothesis is that adequate minimum wage guarantees are a requirement of social justice both because they express social recognition of work and because they are necessary (albeit not sufficient) for combating domination at work.

This meets the ISRF’s key objective of delivering innovative, interdisciplinary research that responds to some of the most pressing social challenges of today.

Contacting Fellows

If you would like to contact any of our Fellows to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at [email protected].