Spring 2022 - LBST 306 D100

The Political Economy of Labour Markets: Critical and Radical Approaches (3)

Class Number: 5813

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    RCB 5120, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    John Irwin
    Office: AQ 6080
    Office Hours: Mon 12:30pm - 1:30pm
  • Prerequisites:

    Strongly Recommended: LBST 101.



An exploration of critical and radical political economy traditions in Labour Studies with a focus on how these approaches have diverged from, and provided alternatives to, classical and orthodox economic understandings of labour and labour markets.


This course explores the structures of the critical and radical political economy traditions in the field of Labour Studies. It delves into how the critical and radical approaches have provided alternative conceptions to classical and orthodox economics.

After introducing classical economics (Ricardo, Smith, Bentham and Mill), the course sets out by covering some key theorists that have framed alternatives to economic orthodoxy (Marx, Gramsci, Marcuse, Galbraith, etc.).

It will focus on the issues faced by the contemporary labour movement in the current political economic context, including: feminism/sexism; racism/anti-colonial movements; environmental movements (both neocolonial and anti-colonial); health and labour; anti-child labour and anti-globalization movements (including anti-‘free trade’, Occupy, and Idle No More). Attention is paid in particular to the role of labour in political economic systems, how the labour movement engages with other movements, and how 'working-class values' relate to dominant class interests.


Critical evaluation of texts and sources, strategies for articulating and validating your findings, the application of quantitative and qualitative reasoning, the use of various research tools, a grounding in political economy, and the strengthening of written, oral, and process communication skills.

You will have the tools to analyze the emerging models of labour studies. You will attain substantive knowledge of labour movements, labour markets, and class dynamics.

You will come away with an ability to apply radical and critical political economics to analyze current labour market issues and the impact of new social movements on labour markets in both the global South and the global North.


  • Seminar Presentations 25%
  • Midterm Exam 30%
  • Term Project 45%


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 Honesty and Student Conduct Policies: The Labour Studies Program follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic honesty and student conduct 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.



Barone, C. A. (2015). Radical Political Economy A Concise Introduction. Florence: Taylor and Francis.

This title is available online through the SFU Library here.

Elias, J. & Roberts, A. (2018). Handbook on the International Political Economy of Gender. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire: Edward Elgar Publishing.

This title is available online through the SFU Library here.

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire: Edward Elgar Publishing 2018

There will be numerous on-line readings from peer reviewed academic literature, government, non-government, business, and international organization reports.

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 spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware 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.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.