Spring 2020 - SA 302W D100

Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism (SA) (4)

Class Number: 3089

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 6 – Apr 9, 2020: Mon, 1:30–5:20 p.m.



An introduction to the political economy and culture of capitalism in relation to global problems. Case studies may focus on issues of population, famine, disease, poverty, environmental destruction, social inequality, and nation-state violence. Resistance, rebellion and social movements in response to these problems also will be addressed. Students who took SA 294 in 03-1, 04-1 and 04-2 may not take SA 302 for further credit. Writing/Breadth-Social Sci.


This course aims to explore a series of intersecting global problems produced and maintained by capitalist modes of production and related values and feelings. This course asks a series of questions: What is capitalist culture? How are different social groups imbricated in the global culture of capitalism? Where are global problems produced and where and by whom are they most acutely felt? How, in the midst of interlocking global crises, is capitalist culture being enforced and resisted? To respond to these questions, we will examine how various theoretical perspectives have conceptualized capitalism and its social implications. Topics include: colonial violence, marginal workers, consumer culture, corporate charity, the global care chain, migration, environmental crisis, and Western labour movements.


It is my aim that in completing this course, students will be comfortable:

  • Explaining concrete global problems in terms of their general and abstract connections to capitalist processes and intersectional theories of political economy
  • Analyzing a current affairs moment or event in terms of its framing, implied values, and stakes for particular groups
  • Critiquing movements or campaigns that appear to advocate ethical consumption or social justice aims and generate good feelings
  • Summarizing and distinguishing capitalism as an economic system and a cultural value system
  • Writing clearly and with feeling about the relationship between global problems and capitalist culture


  • Quizzes (3 x 10%) 30%
  • Reflective essay 20%
  • Essay proposal 10%
  • Essay (2 drafts) 40%
  • Specific assignments and weights subject to change by the start of the course, but will include monthly quizzes and scaffolded, writing-focused term paper.


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.



Robbins, Richard H. and Rachel A. Dowty. (2019). Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, 7th edition. New York: Pearson.
ISBN: 978-0-134732794

Additional required material available through Canvas. You will be responsible for bringing a hardcopy of these materials to class. This brand new edition of the textbook was assigned in the Fall 2019 semester, so there will be used copies floating around for purchase as of December 2019.

Registrar Notes:

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