Spring 2015 - LBST 101 D100

Introducing Labour Studies (3)

Class Number: 4047

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 6 – Apr 13, 2015: Tue, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 15, 2015
    Wed, 4:00–4:00 p.m.



Introduction to key concepts necessary for understanding the character and organization of work in contemporary society. The discussion of such issues as how our society decides who works, what the work will be, and under what conditions people work, will be situated in the context of current debates, trend and issues.


Labour Studies 101 is an introduction to the critical study of work, workers, and the labour movement, focusing on Canada. We will examine the nature of wage work and its history, what work looks like now, the role of trade unions in Canada, and how work might look in the future. We will also look at the kinds of social differences that shape what counts as work and how it is valued: concepts like class, gender, and race. To do this, we will read academic work from sociology, labour studies and history, but also first person narratives and comic books.


By the end of the course students will have an understanding of the basic structure of work in Canada today, and will be introduced to important ideas about unions, capitalism, globalization, and labour markets. 


  • Participation 15%
  • Writing Assignment 1 15%
  • Midterm Exam 20%
  • Writing Assignment 2 25%
  • Final Exam 25%


Students are expected to come to class prepared, to participate in discussions and activities, and to follow policies on the use of technology in class and on respecting classmates. I will also expect you to be willing to think about and share your own experiences of work and to be open to a range of different kinds of readings.


Plagiarism is taken very seriously at SFU and will not be tolerated. If you plagiarize you are not only trying to cheat me, but you are also cheating yourself and your fellow students. Text-spinning, buying or copying essays, or re-using work from other courses is not allowed. Be careful about what you copy from the internet and be sure you understand how to cite other people’s work. There will be a workshop on library resources, citing sources, etc. to help you understand where to find academic materials and how to use them in your work without unintentionally plagiarizing another writer’s work. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me.

All students are expected to read SFU’s policies concerning academic honesty and student conduct [S 10.01 and S10.04]. The policies can be read at this website: www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student.html



These books are all on reserve in the Bennett Library. There is only one copy each of Stud Turkel’s Working and the 2010 edition of Work and Labour in Canada. The first one is a pretty quick read so the available copy is on 4-hour loan. Work and Labour in Canada is a denser and more academic book, but there are an additional couple of copies of the 2005 edition available in the library.  

There will be additional required readings for some weeks, which will be made available online. The complete reading list will be provided in the full syllabus.


Paul Buhle, ed., Studs Terkel’s Working: A Graphic Adaptation, (New York: The New Press, 2009)

Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (not) getting by in America, (New York: Picador, 2011).

Andrew Jackson, Work and Labour in Canada: Critical Issues, 2nd Ed., (Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press, 2010).

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/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