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Labour Studies 1C03 Lecture #2.docx

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McMaster University
Political Science
John W Seaman

Labour Studies 1C03 Lecture #2 th September 16 , 2013  What is work?  Introduction to Capitalism and work under Capitalism  What does this tell me about the ideas of freedom, democracy and equality? o Capitalism - Profit through poor wages, poor structure, cheap materials - Not something that is necessarily natural - Very recent type of an economic system - Most work is performed by people who do not own the company they work for nor do they own the products they are producing o Economic Systems - Is the way we organize production and distribution of goods within a society - Affects every aspect of human life, from how we produce and what we consume to how we relate to each other - Affects our ideas, the power dynamics and relationships we have - o Profit/ Surplus Value - Surplus is the extra money owners make from selling their product, for more than it costs to produce it - Leads to an uneven distribution of wealth, worker makes way less than the owner, doesn’t get full value - 2% of the world’s population own half of the world’s wealth - Richest 10% own 85% of the world’s wealth - 3.5 billion people live on 1% of the world’s wealth - Not giving people what they need to survive - Production within capitalism is not likely what is needed in society but what would generate profit - Produced largely on how much profit it could make, competition needs to be knocked out - Terminator seeds- produced so farmers will always need to buy more seeds in order to grow and produce crops o Wage Labour - What constitutes work and what kind of activities deserve a wage (ex. House work deserves a wage) - Wage labour makes work a commodity (an item, something to trade) it becomes a thing - Human labour becomes a thing - Those who sell their labour power surrender their control for work to be done, treats it as a thing - Our lives become a model and a commodity - A way to organize work and production that Is particular to capitalism - Feudalism, based on land ownership and production on the land - Economic and political system that existed from about 400 AD, based on relations of aristocracy and royalty - Worked and produced the land and gave it as a form of taxes - The common people often could survive off the land, did not sell their labour for wages - Once the system was dismantled and people began to be pushed from the land, they were no longer able to survive this way - No way to create their own food, as a result, were forced into a position to rent themselves out to new industrial owners in order to survive - Capitalism developed in large part through the displacement of people from access to land - Process continues to this day in different regions and in different ways o Commodity o Exploitation - Not receiving the full value of your input into a product - Through exploitation that surplus value is created - The third aspect of wage labour is the structural disadvantage of workers in relation to wage labour - Most people need wages to survive - If the worker risks hunger and deprivation, there is a structural disadvantage - Under capitalism, there is no other means of income , there aren’t a lot of options - BAND AID SOLUTION: doesn’t challenge the ???? o Slavery and Indentured Labour  Structural Disadvantage - Shows the unevenness of the trade, workers are competing with each other to
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