REL 284 Spring 2013 What's At Work? (W)

Curse for sin, opposite of fun, or curiously peripheral, as in the now conventional career advice, "Do what you love and the money will follow," work has generally gotten short shrift, at least by the male authors with soft hands one usually reads in college. This course will examine shifting attitudes and approaches to human labor in the history of western thought. We will begin with a multifaceted consideration of why we work and the ways in which approaches to human labor intertwined with reflections on human inequality, especially slavery and its justification, and the identification between poverty and the resistance to hard work. With the abolition of slavery and consequent arrival of modernity, two trends are strikingly added to the traditional discourses on work: the workplace as the public site for the achievement of justice, e.g., a living wage, workplace safety and equality of opportunity; and the articulation of individual identity and worth in the context of work, e.g., notions of profession, career and status. The legacy of both those trends is still very much with us, but the twentieth century dislodged the focus on humans as laborers in favor of a view of them as consumers. That is in part a consequence of the continuing shift from a production to a service economy, but also is intimately connected with the fortunately incomplete licensing of desire and leisure that are becoming the hallmark of both our current consumer economy and workplace. These competing issues leave us with the central split in American society between the slightly larger portion of Americans who say they 'get a sense of identity from their jobs' and the remaining significant minority who describe their jobs as 'just what they do for a living.' This course will explore some of the reasons for this fundamental cleavage. In addition to readings in the classics of Western thought including the Bible, Hesiod, Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Hobbes, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud and Weber, we shall explore contemporary portrayals of work and workplaces in literature and film and conclude with contemporary authors including Svendsen, Muirhead, Florida, Gini, Lindsay, Sennett.
Class Format: lecture/discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: 4 essays (4-6 pages) in different genres: philosophical, ethnographic, ethical case study, personal reflection
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Prerequisites: none
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Divisional Attributes: Division II,Writing Intensive
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Enrollment Limit: 25
Expected Enrollment: 15
Class Number: 3684
CLASSES ATTR INSTRUCTORS TIMES CLASS NUMBER ENRL CONSENT
REL284-01(S) LEC What's At Work? (W) Division 2: Social StudiesWriting Intensive William R. Darrow
MR 1:10 PM-2:25 PM Paresky 112 3684
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