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THE LABOUR STUDIES PROGRAM (LBST)
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
LBST 301W: Labour Movements: Contemporary Issues and Images
1. COURSE DESCRIPTION :
This course introduces the major issues, socio-economic structures, and perceptions that concern unions and other working-class organisations today. It focuses on the problems that are faced by the labour movement, including economism, bureaucratisation, electoral opportunism, racism, sexism, state/employer strategies, and repressive laws. Especial attention is paid to how labour is portrayed in popular culture, how the labour movement engages with these representations, and how `working-class` values relate to the interests of dominant classes.
2. COURSE OBJECTIVES or LEARNING OUTCOMES:
Students completing this course will have an enhanced understanding of the broad challenges facing the labour movement, plus many specific economic, political, and ideological issues that affect working class lives in Canada today. Students also will be able to critically engage with a variety of scholarly and activist perspectives on the tactics and strategies of exploiting and exploited classes in their mutually constituted struggles.
3. RECOMMENDED READING:
Ross, S., Savage, L., eds. 2012. Rethinking the Politics of Labour in Canada . Halifax: Fernwood. (Available in the library. Many of the other syllabus readings are accessible via Canvas.)
4. a) COURSE REQUIREMENTS:
In addition to the written assignments, students are expected to complete the weekly readings, regularly attend seminars, and participate in classroom discussions.
b) Grading structure: Participation: 16.25% Course Diary: 16.25% Fieldtrip Report: 16.25%
Book Review: 15%
Research Essay Proposal: 16.25%
Research Essay: 35%
LBST 101 is recommended. Writing.
LBST 301 W has an optional fieldtrip & related assignment that may require travel by vehicle, public transit, or foot during the scheduled class hours. Students that do not wish to participate in the fieldtrip will be provided with an alternative assignment. Further details can be obtained from the instructor.
All students are expected to read SFU’s policies concerning academic honesty and student conduct (S 10.01 - S10.04). The policies can be read at this website: www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student.html
6. COURSE OUTLINE:
CHALLENGING THE SYSTEM OR SAVING IT?
ECONOMISM & CLASS STRUGGLE IN CANADA
Rethinking the Politics of Labour in Canada, Chapter 1 Richer and Poorer, Chapter Two
`Canada`s Workers Movements` `What is to Be Done?` (Pages 373-8)
These Were the Reasons / Beyond Collision
WEEK 3 BUREAUCRACY & US `INTERNATIONALISM` 26th SEPT
Rethinking the Politics of Labour in Canada, Chapter 2 Canadian Labour in Crisis, Chapter 3
Capitalism and the National Question in Canada, Chapter 5 `What is Trade Union Bureaucracy?`
WEEK 4 MIGRANT LABOUR & IMPERIALISM 3rd OCT
Rethinking the Politics of Labour in Canada, Chapter 12
Maidens, Meal, Money, Part II, Chapters 4-8
`The Temporary Foreign Worker Program in Canada`
`Native Migrant Labour in the Southern Alberta Sugar-Beet Industry`
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
WEEK 5 GENDER & STATE POLICY 17th OCT
Rethinking the Politics of Labour in Canada, Chapter 7
No Place Like Home, Chapter 1
`Feminism as a Class Act`
Live Nude Girls Unite!
WEEK 6 WORKSHOP ON LABOUR MOVEMENTS RESEARCH 24th OCT
*** Bring a printed copy of your essay proposal to class, for comments ***
WEEK 7 RACIALIZED LABOUR I 31st OCT
Deer Hunting with Jesus, Chapter 1 Scratching the Surface, Chapter 4
`This is Our Country, These are Our Rights` `Authenticity on the Line`
Made in L.A.
WEEK 8 RACIALIZED LABOUR II / THE LIVING WAGE 7th NOV
Rethinking the Politics of Labour in Canada, Chapter 10
Rethinking the Politics of Labour in Canada, Chapter 11 Nickel and Dimed, Chapter Three
`Community Unions and the Revival of the American Labor Movement`
A Time to Rise
WEEK 9 YOUTH & STUDENTS 14th NOV
Student Power, Chapter 1
The Training Trap, Chapter 3
Digital Diploma Mills, Chapters 1-2
Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall
WEEK 10 ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENTS 21st NOV
Rethinking the Politics of Labour in Canada, Chapter 9 Northern Exposures, Chapter 1
`From the Environment to the Workplace . . . and Back Again?` `Changing the Climate`
Tar Sands, Canada for Sale
WEEK 11 ORDINARY & EXTRA-ORDINARY LAWS 28th NOV
Rethinking the Politics of Labour in Canada, Chapter 13 `Towards Permanent Exceptionalism`
`The Freedom to Strike in Canada`
`What`s Law Got to Do with It?`
Harlan County USA
WEEK 12 SELF-DETERMINATION STRUGGLES 5th DEC
Rethinking the Politics of Labour in Canada, Chapter 8 The Decolonization of Quebec, Chapter 2
`The Politics of Solidarity`
`The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination`
Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance
Course Diary: 15%
◦ What did the readings and discussion for that week make you think about?
◦ How did class discussions change (or not) your perspective on the readings?
◦ How are they connected to other things that you are interested in conceptually, methodologically and empirically?
Fieldtrip Report: 15%
◦ Economic: Describe the major economic resources/changes throughout the history of this area. Explain why changes occurred or did not occur.
◦ Social: Describe the major social classes/issues/changes throughout the history of this area. Explain why changes occurred or did not occur.
◦ Political: Describe the major political issues/developments throughout the history of this area. Explain why changes occurred or did not occur.
◦ Cultural: Describe the major cultural shifts throughout the history of this area. Explain how the changes relate to economic, social, and political matters.
◦ Environmental: Describe the major environmental issues throughout the history of this area. Explain how these issues relate to economic, social, political, and cultural matters.
◦ Technological: Describe the major technological changes throughout the history of this area. Explain how changes relate to economic, social, political, cultural and environmental issues.
◦ Any comments on/problems with literature on the topic?
◦ What are some of the labourrelated connections to your own life?
◦ Who wrote what, why, and whether the where and when of the writing also had any great significance.
◦ How can the content, approach, and style of the author best be summarised?
◦ To what extent does the author problematise the topic that they are writing about?
◦ What is the key thesis of the work – and how does this relate to the author`s purpose?
◦ What might be the broader intellectual context of the work, including its relationship to other texts, both those mentioned by the work in question and the other readings?
◦ How does the work illuminate issues today and relate to contemporary debates?
◦ What is the particular structure of the author`s argument and the relationship between theoretical analysis and empirical discussion?
◦ What are the author`s research methods and sources? How effectively are these used? Are there any problems with using such materials?
◦ Do you have any criticisms of the author`s approach and/or analysis/conclusions?
Research Essay Proposal: 10%
◦ Provisional title for your essay;
◦ Provisional thesis statement for your essay;
◦ List of five sources (listen carefully during the library session for information);
◦ Eight provisional themes (think of them as paragraph headings) for your essay.
Ideally you will have a topic before we meet in the library, so that you can ask specific questions during the research class. If you submit a research essay without having the topic agreed in advance, you will not receive a grade.
◦ What are some of the chief economic issues related to the `reproduction of labour`, i.e., wages, costs of living, ratio of inflation over the years to wage increases or decreases, etc..
◦ How does your chosen sector relate to the fortunes of other sectors?
◦ What are the main forms of competition in the sector?
◦ What are the general levels of unionisation in the sector?
◦ What are the principle unions that represent workers? Any prominent union politics or disagreements about organising tactics?
◦ Can anything be noted about the general attitude of other social classes of the B.C. population to people working in your chosen sector? Why do you think that people have the views that they do?
◦ Are there any positive or negative effects of immigration in your chosen sector?
◦ Is there anything remarkable about the ethnic composition of your chosen sector?
◦ Is there anything remarkable about the gender balance of your chosen sector?
◦ Is there anything else remarkable about the demographics of your sector, e.g., age?
◦ Why might your sector have chosen to originally locate in the area that it did? To what extent was this based on the control of a suitable labour force?
◦ What are the different levels of income in your chosen sector? How does this compare to similarly skilled work in B.C.?
◦ What can be commented upon about the degree of stratification in the workforce of your chosen sector and its management?
◦ Are there any contentious issues existing surrounding the reskilling or deskilling of the workforce?
◦ Is there anything notable about the general health of the workforce in your chosen sector, e.g., known health issues due to the form of work?
◦ What is the typical religious composition of the workforce? Is there a difference or similarity with the majority of the managers and/or owners of property in the sector?
◦ Does the sector have a significant degree of foreign ownership?
◦ How is the ownership of property in your chosen sector typically structured?
◦ What are the predominant ways that your chosen sector is financed?
◦ Are there any especially notable political controversies about the sector?
◦ typical other industries in the geographical area – and explain why they are there, the What are the typical backward and forward linkages that exist or do not in your sector, i.e., to other types of economic activity?
◦ Is it even the case that workers in the sector are typically married or unmarried?
◦ What does a `typical` worker in your chosen sector look like?
◦ How do people often suggest that working conditions be improved in your sector?
◦ What are the major social or geographical obstacles to unionisation in your sector? How are working people trying to overcome these difficulties?
◦ What are perceived as the main difficulties facing your sector as a whole? Do you agree with these views after studying the sector?
◦ Is there anything distinctive about the historical-geographical origins of the workforce in your chosen sector? Has anything changed over the years?
◦ What are the major sociological characteristics of workforces in general in B.C.? How does your sector compare to them – similar or unusual? Explain why.
◦ What are the most important branches of production throughout the history of the B.C. region, since colonisation, and how does your sector relate to them?
◦ What have been the most `typical` forms of property (e.g., in land, industry, etc.), as controlled by different social classes at different times, in your sector?
◦ What have been the most distinctive `sub-regional` geographies of work within the B.C. region? In other words, does work in your chosen sector, in its chief localities, resemble or differ much from other types of work in the area?
◦ What have been the main social, political and economic causes and impacts of technological change upon the sector?
◦ What is the role of pressure groups, political parties and trade unions in relation to your chosen working population?
◦ What are the general political demands in the region by your population? How have these been expressed or articulated? Can any connection be drawn with any broader particular form of work or locality?
◦ What are the workplace problems/grievances of your chosen sector, both generally and that are particular to the B.C. region?
◦ What are the largest environmental aspects/problems of the B.C. region, as associated with your chosen sector?
◦ What are the most important forms of cultural expression/cultural movements associated with your chosen sector?
◦ What have been/are the most important items of legislation affecting work in your chosen sector? Explain why legislation has changed (or not) over the years.
◦ What have been the main consequences of different legislations upon your chosen sector in B.C.? Are there any connections to changes elsewhere in Canada, or perhaps from abroad?
◦ How do you `theoretically` account for the particular (changing) sociology and geography of the working class in your chosen sector?
◦ What information does the source give me?
◦ Author/producer of source?
◦ Date of production?
◦ Place of production?
◦ Background events to source?
◦ For what purpose was the source produced?
◦ What was the intended audience of the source? (public, private, limited, etc.?)
◦ What views and ideas are expressed?
◦ What evidence is offered in support of these views?
◦ Are there any other details in the source?
◦ How reliable is the source?
◦ Objectivity: even-handed, fair treatment which considers a range of views in a balanced fashion and attempts to gain the truth by examining facts, not to prove a particular view
◦ Comprehensive coverage: whether or not a source has covered all of the relevant detail and factual material necessary to provide the background information for forming a balanced view
◦ Is the source accurate in the way it relates to facts?
◦ Has it conveyed all the necessary facts?
◦ How has the author`s purpose affected the objectivity of the source?
◦ Have the author`s opinions interfered with an objective coverage of the facts?
◦ How do the author`s views/ideas affect the objectivity of the source?
◦ What likely effects have the geographical origins, date of publication and historical context had on the production of the source?
◦ Will the identity of the author be likely to affect the objectivity of the source?
◦ Do you trust the source?
◦ In what particular areas is the source reliable to be used to support an argument or to provide an example?
◦ How useful is the source?
◦ Of what is the source an example?
◦ For what purposes is the source reliable?
◦ Which arguments can the source be used to support or refute?
◦ Remember that every source has some use to the researcher, even if only as an example of an unreliable or partial source!
Labour Studies Undergraduate Grading System:
A+ 95 – 100
B+ 80 - 84
C+ 65 - 69
90 - 94
75 - 79
60 - 64
A- 85 - 89
B- 70 - 74
C- 55 - 59
50 – 54
0 – 49
student did not complete