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Lecture 6

SOCI 1F90 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Labour Power, Living Wage, Social Inequality

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Michelle Webber

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SOCI 1F90: Introduction to Sociology
Lecture 6 – Work and the Political Economy
Wednesday, February 24th, 2016
Film: The Wolf of Wall Street
Money in search for more money
The characters are happy to exploit in pursuit of profit (How is this justified?)
Demonstrates the exploited nature of capitalism
Collection of salesmen (drug dealers)
Selling stock to vulnerable people
Capitalism in Canada
Money as a commodity to exchange in the market
How can we access money?
We sell our capacity to work (known as labour power)
Capitalism appears as common sense and hegemonic
We believe that capitalism is the only way to organize ourselves
“Capitalism enjoys a hegemonic status in Canada”
Economies are social creations
None of them are natural or objective things that exist outside humans
Capitalism is not natural or eternal
We do not have too keep it if we do not want it anymore
Produces much social inequality
The means of production are in very few hands and the rest of the population must sell their labour power
in order to survive in the economy
Global statistics (*know the trends*):
8.6% of the global population own 80% of the global wealth
Less than 1% of the global population own 44% of the global wealth (anticipated to own 50% by
next year)
70% of the population own less than 3% of the global wealth
Neo-liberalism is an economic approach prioritizing private business, free and global trade, and unrestricted
Oppose government intervention in the economy
Lobby the government for policies that benefit the interests of the capital
Minimum wage
Imposes a standard on employers
Guarantees the minimum level of income
Serves as a benchmark for other workers
Helps to stop workers undercutting each other; competing to do jobs for less
The first minimum wage protection occurred in 1918
Gender-based minimum wages were abolished in all provinces in 1974
Minimum wage does not increase automatically
It varies by province (ex. reviewed annually)
Labour Law and the Supreme Court
The 1987 Alberta Reference Public Service Employee Relations Act
This act holds that freedom of association excluded collective bargaining
On January 30th, 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the 1987 decisions
Ruled that freedom of association is an individual right
The ruling does not protect activities or actions of collective organizations
Unions and labour movements fighting back against a pro-employer regime
In 2007, Saskatchewan introduced labour law changes – giving majority of power to employers
Bill 5:
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