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What factors tend to be common in cultures with widespread institutionalized slavery? For example, I know that a demand for cheap labor is a factor, like with the slaves in the American South farming cotton after the cotton gin was invented, but what else needs to be considered?

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking what are factors that might cause a society to go pro-slavery? $\endgroup$ – Rick M. Apr 26 '18 at 17:04
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, to rephrase Rick's question, are you looking for societal factors that cause slavery to be accepted and encouraged, or societal factors that arise because slavery has already been established? $\endgroup$ – bendl Apr 26 '18 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ There are two kinds of societies/cultures with widespread slavery; in some, mostly ancient or medieval, societies, this was how it had always been; in other, modern, societies, slavery was an attempt to prop up an inefficient production (usually of cheap agricultural goods) by reducing costs to the minimum possible. The two kinds of slave-holding societies are not directly comparable, the social position of slaves was different, the general social view of slavery was profoundly different. That being said, feel free to imagine a new slave-holding society; it may be a good story. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 26 '18 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding.SE! When you have a moment, please take our tour and review our help center to learn more about us and what makes a great question. $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 26 '18 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ What sort of society are you asking about, what sort of slavery are you asking about? Without context this is really broad. $\endgroup$ – apaul Apr 26 '18 at 18:57
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Demand for cheap labor, which you already mentioned, is one factor.

The other factor is the absence of "Human rights" concept, or very limited viewing of it. In XIX century western society, it has long become unacceptable to have white slaves. However, people of different color were viewed differently, and it was accepted that their rights are different.

There are more factors, like wars, which provide a stream of new slaves for the economy. In second century AD Roman conquests have reached their peak. That meant that the supply of slaves had become limited, which turned out one of the critical reasons for the Ancient Rome to decline and eventually fall.

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    $\begingroup$ Let's not forget hard labour as well as cheap, one reason few free men would work in 18th century sugar plantations was how unpleasant the work is. $\endgroup$ – Ummdustry Apr 26 '18 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Ummdustry - Still happens today with migrant workers picking fruit and vegetables in the US west coast and US south. Alabama tried to ban [mexican] immigrants. The whites and others were too lazy to do the hard work they [the immigrants] performed, and millions of dollars were lost because crops lay in the field and never made it to market. Also see How America’s harshest immigration law failed (and friends). $\endgroup$ – user63249 Apr 16 at 1:19
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Lack of automation: if you can get a machine to do it you probably won't use slaves, since machines are often cheaper & better (Espacily in the long run) this may also take the form of a volatile economy in which the upfront cost of automating a process is not worth the risk of that process no longer being needed.

Lack of morality: this might be high and mighty of me but slavery is not a system that should be used, like ever. Any civilization that practice's it is missing the ability to see someone as human. Common examples are the triangular slave trade and Nazi prison camps.

Low education threshold for work: in general slavery works better for 'uneducated' labour as its easier to make someone work when you can clearly see a measure of it 100 acres of land ploughed vs 100 programming done(?).

Non-chatel slavery systems: slavery doesn't have to mean whips, chains and farm hands for instance The Ottoman empires jannisaries were a form of slave and broader definitions of slavery can exist under different conditions.

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    $\begingroup$ Not to forget the mamelukes who actually established powerful and long-lasting kingdoms... $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 26 '18 at 20:30

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