Since the 1980s, prominent scholars of labour law in the UK – Paul Davies, Mark Freedland, Simon Deakin – have argued for a definition of labour law that is closely tied to the functioning and parameters of the labour market. In doing so, they have made a break – decidedly and explicitly – with conceptions of labour law that focused on the collectivization of labour and collective bargaining as a means of addressing the imbalance of bargaining power inherent in the individual employment relation. In the context of the current financial crisis, I revisit these arguments and consider the question of how well they might stand up to the following objections: that in accepting the agenda for labour law and policy set by government, they limit the scope for criticism of that law and policy; that in analysing labour law as the law of the labour market, they come perilously close to accepting the subordination of social objectives to economic – and specifically market – objectives.