Fall 2020 - SA 302W D100

Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism (SA) (4)

Class Number: 2613

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM

  • Instructor:

    Amanda Watson
    Office Hours: Th 1:00-3:00 pm via FaceTime audio or Zoom



An introduction to the political economy and culture of capitalism in relation to global problems. Case studies may focus on issues of population, famine, disease, poverty, environmental destruction, social inequality, and nation-state violence. Resistance, rebellion and social movements in response to these problems also will be addressed. Writing/Breadth-Social Sci.


We are learning this theoretical material through the dynamic lenses of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 and the anti-black racism protests led by Black Lives Matter. This course aims to explore a series of intersecting global problems produced and maintained by capitalist modes of production and related values and feelings. This course asks a series of questions: What is capitalist culture? How are different social groups imbricated in the global culture of capitalism? Where are global problems produced and where and by whom are they most acutely felt? How, in the midst of interlocking global crises, is capitalist culture being enforced and resisted? To respond to these questions, we will examine how various theoretical perspectives have conceptualized capitalism and its social implications. Topics include: colonial violence, marginal workers, consumer culture, corporate charity, the global care chain, migration, environmental crisis, and Western labour movements.


It is my aim that in completing this course, students will be comfortable:

  • Explaining concrete global problems in terms of their general and abstract connections to capitalist processes and intersectional theories of political economy
  • Analyzing a current affairs moment or event in terms of its framing, implied values, and stakes for particular groups
  • Critiquing movements or campaigns that appear to advocate ethical consumption or social justice aims and generate good feelings
  • Summarizing and distinguishing capitalism as an economic system and a cultural value system
  • Writing clearly and with feeling about the relationship between resistance to problems and capitalist culture


  • Reading responses (5 x 6%) 30%
  • Reflective essay 1 8%
  • Reflective essay 2 8%
  • Course project: Essay proposal 15%
  • Course project: Case description 10%
  • Course project: Essay intro paragraphs + case description + detailed outline (1st draft) with peer review 15%
  • Course project: Draft essay 14%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.


  • Access to a computer and/or other electronic device that will allow you to write and upload assignments in Canvas and virtually attend your classes remotely through Blackboard Collaborate and/or Zoom
  • Access to an internet connection
  • Microsoft Word for all assignment submissions (available to all students for free http://www.sfu.ca/itservices/technical/software/office365.html)



Please see SFU Bookstore website for information on textbook purchase options.


Robbins, R. H. & Dowty, R. A. (2019). Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, 7th edition. New York: Pearson.
ISBN: 978-0-134732794

Additional required material available through Canvas.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).