Fall 2017 - LBST 308 D100

The Labour Process: Work and Technological Change (3)

Class Number: 2475

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 5 – Dec 4, 2017: Tue, 2:30–5:20 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 changing nature of the labour process in the present era.


The capitalist mode of production is commonly seen as a rationally organized extension of some kind of natural human progress. Mainstream economics extol the virtues of private enterprise assuming a level playing field and a general tendency for markets to benefit society as a whole. What these narratives ignore (or usher away through scientistic abstraction) is the productive human activity at the heart of production and the ways in which this human activity is both a crucial ingredient and key contradiction to the productive enterprise writ large. This course will challenge mainstream assumptions of the labour process by considering how the division of labour, the innovation of new managerial and technological processes, and the globalization of productive networks shape our collective working lives.

The course begins with an historical survey of the imperatives of the capitalist mode of production and the ways in which these led to the increasing need for a complex division of labour, first through industrial practices, later through the intensification and fragmentation of managerial procedure, and finally through a globally dispersed and gendered workforce. Through our readings and discussions we will consider more than the advent of industrial technologies and automation, probing the work subjectivities and identities with which these intersect. Ultimately, our journey will be one that takes us from the rationalized spaces of high industry to the highly stratified global division of labour – from factory work to knowledge work and back again.


Students will be challenged to think critically about the complex and ever changing world of work especially as this relates to the intersections between technology and ideology.


  • Participation/attendance 20%
  • Midterm exam 20%
  • In-class presentation 20%
  • Final paper 40%


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.



All readings will be available on Canvas.

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