Fall 2023 - IS 221 OL01

Workers in the Global Economy: Globalization, Labour and Uneven Development (3)

Class Number: 4160

Delivery Method: Online


  • Course Times + Location:




Explores how people experience paid and unpaid work in the global economy. Focuses on processes such as migration and economic structuring, and applies critical development studies and critical geopolitics to study labour and employment. Explores links between capitalism, urbanization and labour struggles. Examines labour internationalism and global labour rights. Students with credit for LBST 201 or LBST 230 under the title "Workers and Global Capitalism" may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Social Sciences.


This course explores the relationship between development, globalization and labour. Using an interdisciplinary framework that will include historical and sociological analysis, critical development studies and geopolitical analysis, the course invites students to examine how the historical origins of violent labour regimes such as colonialism and slavery inform contemporary processes of globalization. While we will pay attention to the ways in which global historical processes perpetuate institutionalized hierarchies based on class, gender, ethnicity, citizenship status through paid and unpaid work, the course will also focus on how workers’ struggles against dynamic global forces shape global contemporary labour markets and production networks.

Through a comparative lens of different geographical regions and groups of workers, we will ask: how have globalization and global economic restructuring processes impacted the lives of workers and the idea of democracy? How have workers and workers’ organizations responded to the socio-cultural and geopolitical changes affecting work? How have these global processes facilitated workers organization of international labour solidarity and the coordination of unions and social movements, transnationally? The course will utilize lectures, readings, films/podcasts and student-led/instructor facilitated discussions.


  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concept of global labour studies.
  • Conceptualize relationships between development, globalization, and labour
  • Understand different contexts of paid and unpaid work and their association to capitalism
  • Show familiarity with the importance and impact of processes like migration and global financial integration.
  • Identify and apply interdisciplinary approaches including political economic, sociological, livelihood perspectives to analysing global labour dynamics.
  • Find sources and conduct research on labour dynamics in different regions.


  • Paper Proposal & Annotated Bibliography 25%
  • Group Podcast Presentation 30%
  • Weekly Discussions & Participation 10%
  • Final Essay 35%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraws 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 A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D, F, N (N standing indicates student did not complete course requirements). Intervals for the assignment of final letter grades based on course percentage grades are 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



Marcus Taylor and Sebastien Rioux (2017) Global Labour Studies. Polity.(Available online through the SFU library)

NB// The link to the course library guide and book: https://www.lib.sfu.ca/help/research-assistance/subject/labour-studies/lbst201workersintheglobaleconomy

Additional material will be available on Canvas or Library Course Page


Beverley Silver (2003) Forces of Labour. Cambridge University Press


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.