Spring 2021 - LBST 306 D100

The Political Economy of Labour Markets: Critical and Radical Approaches (3)

Class Number: 5737

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 11 – Apr 16, 2021: Tue, 11:30 a.m.–2:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Benjamin Anderson
    Office Hours: Tu 14:30-15:30, open hours via Blackboard, private via Zoom
  • Prerequisites:

    Strongly Recommended: LBST 101.



An exploration of critical and radical political economy traditions in Labour Studies with a focus on how these approaches have diverged from, and provided alternatives to, classical and orthodox economic understandings of labour and labour markets.


Since Karl Marx’s initial critique of and intervention in the field of political economy, critical and radical traditions of political economic analysis have sat at the foundation of labour studies and many of its related disciplines. This course presents students with an introductory survey of the history, theoretical foundations, and application of critical and radical traditions in political economy, especially as these relate to the global division of labour in the 20th and 21st centuries. It will begin its presentation of alternatives to orthodox economic theories with an overview of classical political economy, particularly the work of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, before moving on to Karl Marx’s critique of this stream of thought.

Through the course of the term we will explore both critical and radical analyses of the global power relations of work and labour, paying particular attention to trends in the labour market in the 20th and 21st centuries – informality, precarity, global dependency, and segmentation to name only a few. Throughout the course we will attempt to look at the field of critical political economy through an intersectional lens, applying the contributions and critiques of feminist political economy, critical race studies, and decolonial theory to better understand intersecting relations of inequality characterizing the contemporary labour market. Labour and working-class interests will sit at the heart of our explorations and analyses in this course and we will ultimately use our interpretations of global political economic relations to consider the implications of power structures for the labour movement and other social movements both within Canada and around the world.


This course will give you the theoretical and procedural foundations to apply the tools of critical and radical political economy to historical and emerging trends in labour studies.

You will be challenged to critically analyze and interpret global developments and processes relating to the division of labour, inequality, class, and precarious employment.

After taking this class, you will be prepared to utilize critical political economic frameworks to analyze and critique socio-economic structures and institutions and to interpret collective labour and class-based movements through a global lens.


  • Attendance and participation 10%
  • Midterm exam 30%
  • Group presentation 15%
  • Project proposal 5%
  • Research project 40%


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 Labour Studies Program 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.



All readings will be available through Canvas, the SFU Library, or otherwise online as noted.

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


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).