SOC 329
Work and Future of Capitalism Fall 2019
Division II

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What does it mean to work? How does capitalism shape the way we work? What might work look like in the future? In this three-part course, students engage with global capitalism’s past, present, and future, asking analytic and normative questions about work and the trajectory of capitalism. The first part of the course examines the historical origins of capitalism and leading theories about what capitalism is and how it stratifies the world into social classes. A central theme in part one will be how capitalist labor relations shape meaning and subjectivity, particularly the experience of dignity. In part two, we examine recent and emerging trends in capitalist labor, such as global commodity chains, the death of the career, the rise of the “gig” economy, platform capitalism, and even the seemingly inevitable end of work itself as entire occupations become automated by machine learning. A key question will be how these transformations exacerbate and/or alleviate longstanding inequalities from capitalism’s 19th century past. Through a series of essays, culminating in a final paper, the course concludes by asking students to imagine what work might look like in the next century. Should we continue to work at all? What kinds of productive activity should we value, and how would we go about restructuring (or even overturning) capitalism to allow them to flourish?
The Class: Format: seminar
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: participation, three utopia essays (3-5 pages), paper workshop, final paper (10-12 pages)
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Anthropology and Sociology majors
Distributions: Division II

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