In modern liberal societies, how is it possible for a free person to subject herself to the power of another person and yet retain equal status? The legal category of “subordinate work” was strongly influenced by philosophical debates of the Enlightenment and doctrinal struggles of the nineteenth century. Lawyers initially rejected this category, before recognizing the specific character of the labor contract, that is, the imbalance between capital and labor. This chapter suggests that a distinction between relational and material subordination can shed light on the categorization process of subordination in work. The acceptance of relational subordination – a distribution of power inside the workplace resulting from a system of mutual relationships based on agreement – is determined both by the development of capitalist society itself and by the normative requirements of a liberal democracy, and whose interaction produced the highly specific category of a “legal link of subordination in the employment relationship.” This legal subordination has attained an essential place in modern labor organization, although material subordination that implies the real economic dependence of atypical workers vis-à-vis their employers is making something of a comeback under the cover of bogus “self-employment.”