Summer 2018 - LBST 230 D100

Special Topics in Labour Studies (3)

Workers & Global Capitalism

Class Number: 6829

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    HCC 2540, Vancouver

  • Instructor:

    John Irwin
    Office Hours: Tuesdays 13:00-14:00
  • Prerequisites:

    Strongly Recommended: LBST 101.



A seminar devoted to the in-depth examination of a topic in Labour Studies not regularly offered by the Program. The course may be repeated for credit when different topics are offered.


This is a seminar course devoted to an in-depth and global scale examination of labour issues in the context of global capitalism.

After introducing global labour studies in general, the course sets out by covering some key approaches and laying out a ‘toolkit’ of concepts to analyze global labour studies. In today’s rapidly changing, yet troublingly familiar, global context (technological change coupled with vast social and economic inequalities, and workers’ struggles against these realities) it is imperative to come to an understanding of the relations of global labour to the global, capitalist economy; and the global environment.

The seminar will focus on the issues faced by global labour and workers; and labour and other movements in the current political economic context, including: global labour regimes and production networks; formal and informal work; agrarian labour; migrant labour; forced labour; labour and the environment; corporate social responsibility; global labour organizing (successes and failures); and the prospects for future global labour studies.

Attention is paid in particular to the role of labour in political economic systems and the ecological systems, how the labour movement conflicts/engages with other movements, and how 'working-class values' relate to dominant class interests.


Critical evaluation of texts and sources, strategies for articulating and validating your findings, the application of quantitative and qualitative reasoning, the use of various research tools, a grounding in global labour studies, and the strengthening of written, oral, and process communication skills.

You will have the tools to analyze the emerging models of global labour studies. You will attain substantive knowledge of global labour movements, markets, and class dynamics.

You will come away with an ability to apply radical and critical political economics to analyze current global labour market issues and the impact of new social movements on labour markets in both the global South and the global North.


  • Seminar: Critical review 10%
  • Seminar: Labour issue presentation 10%
  • Seminar: Participation 5%
  • Mid-term exam 20%
  • Term project 30%
  • Final exam 25%


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 misconducted 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:



Taylor, M., & Rioux, S. (2017). Global Labour Studies. Medford, MA: Polity Press.
ISBN: 978-1509504077

There will be numerous on-line readings from peer reviewed academic literature, government, non-government, business, and international organization reports.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site 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.