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SOSC 1510 (104)

Course Outline 2013-14

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Social Science
SOSC 1510
David Langille

Work and Labour Studies Program, Department of Social Sciences Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, York University THE FUTURE OF WORK AS/SOSC 1510 9.0 – 2013-14 Lectures: Wednesday 4:30- 6:30 Location: Vari Hall A Course Instructor: David Langille [email protected] 647 280 7747 Office: Ross North 743 Office Hours: Thursday 3:00-4:00 pm Calendar Description: This course studies the emerging patterns of work in Canadian society. It provides a comprehensive understanding of the post-war work world, the causes of its breakdown, changing values and identities, and competing scenarios for work, leisure and unemployment. Course credit exclusion: AK/SOSC 1740 6.00. Required Course Texts: Krahn, Harvey, Graham S. Lowe and Karen Hughes. Work, Industry, and Canadian Society, 6th Edition, Toronto: Nelson, 2011. New - $90.95 – lots of second-hand copies available O'Brien Moran, Michael and Karen Soiferman. A Student's Guide to Academic Writing, Toronto: Pearson, 2014. New - $66.95 * These will be supplemented by various articles posted on the Moodle site. Tutorials T1 –W 19:00 – McLaughlin College 113 - Janet Boekhorst [email protected] T2 – W 19:00 – Stong College 223 - Amélie Delage [email protected] T3 – R 8:30 - Bethune College 322 – Travis Hay [email protected] T4 – F 14:30 - Vari Hall 3000 - Guio Jacinto [email protected] T5 – R 12:30 - ACW 106 – David Langille [email protected] T6 – cancelled T7 – R 16:30 - ACW 205 – Rachel Manning [email protected] T8 – F8:30 - Vari Hall 1005 - Nathan Prier [email protected] T9 – F10:30 - Health NE 030 – David Langille [email protected] T10 – cancelled T11 – F10:30 - McLaughlin C101 - Peter Brogan [email protected] T12 - F12:30 - Stong C205 - David Langille [email protected] 1 OVERVIEW This is an exciting time to be studying the future of work. Much of the world is struggling to recover from an economic recession of a scope not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Our national income has increased but so has income inequality, causing a growing gap between the wealthy 1% and the rest of us. The bankers of Bay Street are prosperous once again, but many Canadians have remained insecure and fearful since the crash of 2008. For many working people these feelings are not new – their lives have become more precarious over the past thirty years since the transnational corporations and their allies in government engineered the process of global economic restructuring. The gains our parents and grandparents were able to secure in the post-war era have been undermined as wages were rolled back, the social safety net shredded, and the regulatory regime undone. People are suffering as jobs have been lost in manufacturing, forestry, mining and other sectors. Millions of working people are afraid their jobs will be exported, "down- sized", or "contracted out." More and more people are coping with layoffs, part-time work, and temp agencies -- and find themselves working longer for less. The middle class is shrinking as the rich get richer. Many fear that they are just a couple of pay-cheques away from eviction and hunger, as poverty moves from the margins into the mainstream. People find optimism where they can. Some seek a secure perch within the corporate world by becoming more competitive than their peers. Others seek security within the public sector, hoping that a government job will last in the face of tax cuts, downsizing and privatization. Critics believe that the current economic crisis marks the failure of an economic system premised on selfishness and greed – they see the current crisis as opportunity to overcome injustice and improve the human condition. However, it is premature to think this latest recession signals the end of capitalism, or even presume it marks a substantial departure from the neo-liberal current of the past thirty years. At this point, the balance of social forces are not sufficient to change the prevailing economic system or substantially improve the conditions of working people. But the outcome of the crisis is still not clear, and the balance could be tipped in either direction. Complicating the picture still further, the economic crisis is occurring in the midst of unprecedented climate change which threatens our whole civilization, if not all life on earth. How will jobs be affected as we put a greater value on quality of life rather than quantity of goods consumed? Our job this year is to examine how these environmental trends, economic structures, political institutions and social forces affect the future of work. Will these factors drive us apart and further alienate us from our employers and from each other, or will we be drawn together in common cause? Will we all be able to find green jobs that are satisfying and sustainable? 2 THEME FOR THE COURSE -- BUILDING A BETTER WORLD I propose that the theme of our class be "Building a Better World" -- in fact, I hope that you will make this your theme for the rest of your working life. Of course I want you to be able to provide for yourself, your family and your community. But work should not be just a means to accumulate more possessions -- more stuff. The biggest problems in the world today are climate change and global economic insecurity and unemployment. The best way to save the world is to change our values -- our criteria of success -- so that we put a higher value on quality of life rather than quantity of goods consumed. Parts of this world are drowning in junk and obesity while other parts of the world go hungry or without housing. And what's really sick, is that such inequality exists right here in our own city, our own province, our own country. So if you really want to save the world -- and save your own skin in the process -- you will get on board with this movement for the common good. It is not something I invented -- it is as old as civilization -- it's about taking care of people -- making sure that everyone has enough to live. It's about fairness and decency -- what we now call equality and human rights. It's about giving people more control over their lives -- what we now call democracy. It's also about taking care of the earth -- what we new call sustainability. There is a good list of things to work on -- equality, democracy, sustainability. We have a lot of work to do. 3 CONTENT GOALS • Describe the nature of work and working life. • Explore our economic history so as to understand the evolution the Canadian “labour market” – the development of capitalism, the rise of Fordism, and the neo- liberal assault on working people which rolled back the gains of the post-war era. • Examine how specific sectors are being affected, and the issues or problems that affect particular demographic groups such as women, youth, seniors, immigrants, those with disabilities, etc. • Appreciate the full range of economic, social and political possibilities and how working people might achieve greater economic security, justice, dignity and respect. • Introduce the social sciences – notably sociology, economics and political science – and gain respect for the rigour that goes into academic scholarship and evidence-based research in particular. KEY QUESTIONS • What is happening to the world of work? (descriptive) • Why are things the way they are? Where have we come from? What proceeded the current era? (analytical) • What might be? (speculative) What sort of future should we create for ourselves? (prescriptive) • What are my own prospects – or those of my family, friends, community, nation or world? • How can I change the world – and improve our prospects? CRITICAL SKILLS • Read and take notes. Listen and take notes. Learn to read quickly but remember the key terms and major themes, and reflect critically on what you read. • Locate resources – books, journals, articles. • Weigh evidence and select appropriate material. • Learn to give proper citations that give credit where due and avoid academic dishonesty. Learn to paraphrase, not plagiarize. • Learn the analytic tools (concepts and methods
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