SOC 329
Capitalism and the Future of Work Fall 2024
Division II

Class Details

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 racialized 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 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. The course concludes by asking students to imagine a better vision for work 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 taming, eroding, or even smashing capitalism to allow them to flourish?
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 1313
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: participation, reading responses, midterm paper, final paper
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Anthropology and Sociology majors
Distributions: Division II

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