PHLH 270
Healthcare Workers Spring 2024
No divisional credit Difference, Power, and Equity
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

Health care is the largest industry in the US, employing more than one of every 10 private-sector workers. Jobs in the industry, ranging from subcontracted hospital cleaners to university-affiliated specialist surgeons, reflect and reproduce the kind of inequality we see elsewhere in the economy. We will start with an historical perspective, using sources like Patricia D’Antonio’s American Nursing: a History of Knowledge, Authority, and the Meaning of Work, Gretchen Long’s Doctoring Freedom: The Politics of African American Medical Care in Slavery and Emancipation, and The Next Shift by Gabriel Winant, to understand the development of the modern health care industry in the US, its relationship to the process of deindustrialization in cities like Pittsburgh, PA and the shifting racial and gendered character of the paid labor force. From that framing we will investigate the present. What are working conditions like in each sector, what kind of organizing is there, and how do workers interact across sectors? We will spend some time on Marxist feminist theories of care work and how they relate to this industry. Students will be invited to think about themselves as possible future health care workers, and how they might want to interact with the history of the industry, and the low paid, racialized, gendered sector of care workers that health care depends upon. We will have several guest speakers with expertise on the local health care economy, and spend some time learning about comparative experiences in other countries, including colonial experiences with nursing.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 20
Expected: 20
Class#: 3986
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Assignments will include a short paper and a longer research project. Participation in discussion will form part of the grade.
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: public health concentrators
Distributions: No divisional credit Difference, Power, and Equity
DPE Notes: The class asks students to reflect critically on power differences within the health care industry and their shifting relation to race, class, gender and colonial history.
Attributes: PHLH Social Determinants of Health

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