Fall 2017 - LBST 101 D200

Introducing Labour Studies (3)

Class Number: 8343

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 5 – Dec 4, 2017: Mon, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    John-Henry Harter
    Office: AQ 6218
    Office Hours: Mon: 13:00-14:00; Wed: 12:30-13:30



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, trends and issues. Breadth-Social Sciences.


In this course, we will examine the nature of work and class in Canada. We begin with looking at the concept of class and what it means to be working class. Then we move onto examining the history of working class organization in Canada and move onto an examination of the current state of the labour movement and working class politics. We will also look the contemporary nature of work and our economy. While our jobs often seem individual, isolated, temporary, even random, they are part of a global economic system, and so understanding work means understanding that system. We will think critically about work to better understand our own jobs, the Canadian economy, and globalization.


This course will allow students to learn about the labour movement in Canada and the United States with the focus being on Canada. In addition students will come away with an understanding of how class operates in society. This course will also provide students with the basic vocabulary for understanding concepts in the field of labour studies.

The course will draw on students' experiences and research, and we will develop research, writing, and presentation skills through the class assignments. In addition, lectures, tutorial discussions, films, and guest speakers will provide the tools we need to understand the increasingly complex world of work and labour. We'll stress themes of social justice, technology, labour relations, and the work process, ranging from contingent labour to the boardroom.


  • Participation (weekly participation and attendance) 15%
  • Short assignments (three short written assignments) 20%
  • Essay (on work experience) 35%
  • Mid-term exam (terms, concepts, history of labour) 30%


All assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade to be assigned.  The Morgan Centre for Labour Studies follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic honesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01-S10.04).  It is the responsibility of the students to inform themselves of the content of these policies available on the SFU website: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/teaching.html.



Ehrenreich, Barbara. 2011. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. Picador.
ISBN: 978-0312626686

Ross, S., Savage, L., Black, E., and Silver, J. 2015. Building a Better World: An Introduction to the Labour Movement in Canada. Fernwood Publishing.
ISBN: 978-1552667873

Zweig, Michael. 2011. The Working Class Majority. Cornell University Press.
ISBN: 978-0801477331

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