Spring 2015 - LBST 308 D100

The Labour Process: Work and Technological Change (3)

Class Number: 4049

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 6 – Apr 13, 2015: Mon, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 25, 2015
    Sat, 3:30–6:30 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Strongly recommended: LBST 101 and/or 301.



Technological change and globalization are constantly transforming the nature of work. These transformations are examined in the historical development of work, with specific emphasis on the chaining nature of the labour process in the present era.


This course seeks to analyse the labour process in capitalist societies from the perspective of the working class. The central focus will be the historically specific processes that bring together tools/technology, labour power, and raw materials under various organisational and disciplinary frameworks to maximise profitability. Recent rapid technological change and innovations in scientific management have enabled the increased efficiency of production mechanisms, while rendering the labour process more and more uncreative and depersonalised for the worker. Through varying regimes of accumulation, the continual reorganization of work intensifies the disciplining of the worker’s body and mind, and transforms the work experience. This is experienced by the worker in the form of constant deskilling, expendability, flexibility, alienation, and routinisation. The changes in the labour process, moreover, significantly reshape the structure of the working class and alter its capacities. In this regard, the rising involvement of robotics, biotechnology, and nanotechnology in contemporary global production/distribution chains will be examined. The historical and structural transformations of the labour process, and how the working class experiences them, will be at the heart of the discussions in this course. In addition to various sociological texts on the labour process, the course will also feature weekly excerpts from cinema and documentaries to exemplify the changing organisation and experience of the working class, and discuss future trajectories especially in the light of new technologies and methods of scientific management.


The aim of the course is to define the labour process and analyse its contemporary forms. After taking this course, students should be able (a) understand the changing nature of the labour process under the capitalist mode of production, (b) analyse the current capitalist labour process in its structural (technology, management, etc.) and subjective (alienation, deskilling, etc.) aspects, and (c) grasp potential future forms in present trends.


  • Attendance and Participation: 15%
  • Weekly Annotations (10 x 1.5%): 15%
  • Class Presentation: 15%
  • News Response: 5%
  • Writing Assignment: 30%
  • Test: 20%


Each week, students are expected to write annotations (1 page) and participate in class discussions. Moreover, in the course of the semester, each student is to prepare one class presentation, and share one relevant news article with the class. These will be accompanied by a writing assignment and an in-class test at the end of the term.

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 .



A selection of articles/chapters will be placed on library reserve.


Weekly recommended readings are provided in the syllabus.

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