AS/POLS 4902 3.0
Fall/Winter 2007-08


Political Fundamentals, Global Restructuring and the Everyday


Lecture Time: Monday, 08:30 – 11:30
Lecture Location: MC 216
Professor: Rodney Loeppky
Office Location: Ross S631
E-mail: rloeppky@yorku.ca
Office Hours: Mondays, 11:30-13:30
Telephone: 416-735-2100 x 30085

Website: www.yorku.ca/rloeppky


Course Description

This course is intended as a final foray into global politics for senior undergraduate students.  It is designed with ‘global politics’ as its focal point, but ventures outside the boundaries of International Relations (IR) as a discipline.  Beginning with certain categories of thought and action, which fundamentally shape our contemporary period, students are encouraged to reconsider and review basic lenses on politics, with an eye to their wider ramifications.  In the second part of the course, we will explore some of the social and material consequences of these, particularly as they manifest themselves at the global level.  These include a critical look at issues of trade, development, security and global civil society.  The final part of the course departs radically from the standard IR fare, turning our attention back down to ‘everyday’ politics.  The aim here is to explore a series of issues, ranging from urban politics to travel, in order to explore critically both their entwinement with global politics and their most problematic features.

Course Objectives

No section of the course is exhaustive in terms of possible topics or theoretical perspectives.  It is hoped that students use each week as a staging ground to expand on theoretical and empirical issues.  More importantly, as undergraduate careers come to their grand finale, the primary aim is to shift students’ focus to ways in which global politics matter in our everyday lives – both practically and politically. 




In order to keep the costs down for students, I have opted for an electronic supply of readings for this course.  The overwhelming majority of readings are available online through Scott Library.  Only a very small handful of readings will not be available electronically and will be placed on reserve in Scott library.


Course Requirements, evaluation and due dates

The most important requirement of the course is to attend and be prepared for the 3-hour weekly seminar. Being prepared means having completed the required readings in order to follow and participate in seminar discussion.  The seminar will be largely student driven, and its success will depend greatly on students’ interest and willingness to interact.  Participation should be understood in reasonable way, implying neither passive listening nor dominating discussion.  Students, to the greatest extent possible, should endeavour to interact in a respectful and productive manner, crafting a space in which everybody feels comfortable.


Proposal/Term Paper
Written submissions for the course will consist of two items: a paper proposal and a subsequent term paper.  The proposal should be no longer than three pages, and it should map the terrain that you intend to cover in your paper.  You need to include:

1)      the problematique that you are exploring

2)      critical background for the reader

3)      an indication of the framework or approaches that you would incorporate.

4)      some bibliographic references. 

The term paper, based on the proposal, should be rigorously argued and, of course, properly referenced.  All papers should be typed, double-spaced and 4-5000 words in length.  Please include a word count on the final page.  Topics for term papers are to be crafted by the student.  They should have both theoretical and empirical content, and their relation to the course should be at least relatively self-evident.  Students are encouraged to come and talk with me about their paper topics as soon as possible.  The term is short and time is at a premium! 


Final Project/Exam

The final project/exam will involve a choice between two options, each one involving argumentation, but drawing on different skill sets and proclivities of the student.  This project/exam is intended to appeal to creativity, design and project construction skills, but also allow for those with a disposition to more traditional exam scenario.  At the end of the term, I will distribute a list of questions, from which you should choose only one.  You are tasked with constructing an argument in response to this question, and you can express this argument in one of two forms:


1)      Treat it as a take-home exam/essay, and prepare a 12-15 page paper for submission.

2)      Using any film media (VHS, digital, cell phone, etc.), create a 15-20 min. short film that presents an argument in relation to the question at hand.


The latter option is not a typical medium for a final exam, but do not let that mislead you.  Keep in mind: your project must exhibit an argument, but will also be evaluated on its creativity and design.  For the second option, f you choose, you may team up with other students to submit a joint project (to a maximum of 3 students), for which you will receive a common grade.  Think carefully before choosing this option – teamwork allows for a division of labour and the potential benefits of group dynamism, but it also means giving up some control over your project and hitching your grade to the group result.  Whatever option you choose, after receiving and selecting your question, you will have 5 days to complete the exam.  As such, if you are considering the second option, it is advisable to start thinking early about possible technical issues (think editing, file formats, etc.), and to find out about the resources available to you at York.  In other words, you can spend as much time as you like on preparing the platform for your exam/project, but once you are given the theme, the 5-day deadline will be strict.


Course Weighting and Due Dates


Term Paper Proposal: 10%       (Due in class, Monday, February 4, 2008)

Term Paper: 40%                     (Due in class, Monday, March 17, 2008)

Participation: 20%                    (N/A)

Final Exam/Project: 30%          (Distributed by email and on the website, Tuesday, March 1, 8:00 AM.  Due Sunday, April 6, 12:00 PM [Noon])

                                                *Note: I will come to my office on Sunday, April 6, from 12-1PM, to collect papers, discs and otherwise compiled projects.


Note: Students who encounter extenuating circumstances during the term which may interfere with the successful completion of exams or other course assignments should discuss the matter with the course instructor as soon as possible. Students with physical, psychiatric or learning disabilities may request reasonable accommodations in teaching style or evaluation methods, as outlined in Appendix A of the Senate Policy on Students with Special Needs. They should advise the director at the earliest opportunity, so that appropriate arrangements can be coordinated with the Office for Persons with Disabilities, the Counselling Development Centre or the Learning Disabilities Program.


Weekly Course Schedule and Readings


January 7—Introduction  to the Course


I. Fundamentals:


January 14—The Market and Governance


David Harvey, “Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction,” Geografiska Annaler Series B-Human Geography 88B/2 (2006): 145-158.

Colin Leys, “The Cynical State,” in Leo Panitch and Colin Leys (eds.) Socialist Register 2006: Telling the Truth (London: Merlin, 2005): 1-27.


Raymond L. Bryant and Michael K Goodman, “Consuming Narratives: the political ecology of ‘alternative’ consumption,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 29, no.3 (2004): 344-66.



Bob Jessop, “The Changing Governance of Welfare: Recent Trends in its Primary Functions, Scale and Modes of Coordination,” Social Policy & Administration 33, no.4 (1999): 348-59.


January 21—Place and Space, Commodification and Credit


Mike Featherstone, “Perspectives on Consumer Culture,” Sociology 24, no.1 (1990): 5-22.

David Harvey, “The Art of Rent: Globalization, Monopoly and the Commodification of Culture,” in Leo Panitch and Colin Leys (eds.) Socialist Register 2002: A World of Contradictions (London: Merlin, 2002).



Paul Langley, “The Everyday Life of Global Finance,” IPEG Papers on Global Political Economy 5, March, 2003.


January 28—Gender and Race


Annelise Orleck, “Gender, Race and Citizenship Rights: New Views of an Ambivalent History,” Feminist Studies 29, no.1 (2003): 85-204.

Georgia Warnke, “Race, Gender and Antiessentialist Politics,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 31, no.1 (2005): 92-116.



Himani Bannerji, “The Paradox of Diversity: The Construction of Multicultural Canada and ‘Women of Color’,” Women’s Studies International Forum 23, no.5 (2000): 537-60.


II. Global Restructuring:


February 4—Realigning Trade


Philip McMichael, “Sleepless Since Seattle: What is the WTO about?” Review of Internaitonal Political Economy 7, no.3 (2000): 466-74.

Rorden Wilkinson, “The WTO in Crisis: Exploring the Inertia of Institutional Crisis,” Journal of World Trade 35, no.3 (2001): 397-419.

Marilyn Carr and Martha Chen, “Globalization, social exclusion and gender,” International Labour Review 143, no.1/2 (2004): 129-60.


February 11—No Class (Reading Week)


February 18—No Class (Family Day)


February 25—Public Policy and Structural Adjustment: What’s Left of ‘Development’?


R. Kiely, “Globalization, post-Fordism and the contemporary context of development,” International Sociology 13, No.1 (1998): 95-115.

Richard Peet, “Ideology, Discourse and the Geography of Hegemony: From Socialist to Neoliberal Development in Postapartheid South Africa,” Antipode 34, no.1 (2002): 54-84.

Jean L. Pyle and Kathryn B. Ward, “Recasting Our Understanding of Gender and Work During Global Restructuring,” International Sociology 18, no.3 (2003): 461-89.


March 3—‘Security’ and Violence


Gopal Balakrishnan, “States of War,” New Left Review 36 (2005): 5-32.

François Debrix, “Discourses of war, geographies of abjection: reading contemporary American ideologies of terror,” Third World Quarterly 26, no.7 (2005): 1157-72.

Rosalind Petchesky, “Rights of the body and perversions of war: sexual rights and wrongs ten years past Beijing,” International Social Science Journal 57, no.2 (2005): 301-18.


March 10—Global ‘Civil Society’


Louise Amoore and Paul Langley, “Ambiguities of Civil Society,” Review of International Studies 30 (2004): 89-110

Ronnie D. Lipschutz, “Power, Politics and Global Civil Society,” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 33, no.3 (2005): 747-69.

David Chandler, “Building Global Civil Society ‘From Below’?” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 33, no.2 (2004): 313-39.



III. Global Outcomes and the Everyday:


March 17—Our Urban Landscape


Roger Keil and Stefan Kipfer, “Toronto Inc? Planning the Competitive City in the New Toronto,” Antipode 34, no.2 (2002): 227-64.

Matthew W. Rofe, “‘I want to be Global’: Theorising the Gentrifying Class as an Emergent Élite Global Community,” Urban Studies 40, no.12 (2003): 2511-26.

Rianne Mahon, “Rescaling Social Reproduction: Childcare in Toronto/Canada and Stockholm/Sweden,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 29, no.2 (2005): 341-57.



Todd Gordon, “The Political Economy of Law-and-Order Policies: Policing, Class Struggle and Neoliberal Restructuring,” Studies in Political Economy 75 (2005).


March 24—Health


David Price, Allyson M. Pollock and Jean Schaoul, “How the World Trade Organization is shaping dometic policies in health care,” The Lancet 354 (1999): 1889-92.

Evelyn L. Forget, Raisa B. Deber, Leslie L. Roos and Randy Walld, “Canadian Health Reform: A Gender Analysis,” Feminist Economics 11, no.1 (2005): 123-41.

D. Swartz, “The Politics of Reform: Public Health Insurance in Canada,” International Journal of Health Services 23, no.2 (1993): 219-38. **On Reserve.


March 31—Consumption, Guilt and Ecology


Dietlind Stolle, Marc Hooghe and Michele Micheletti, “Politics in the Supermarket: Political Consumerism as a Form of Political Participation,” International Political Science Review 26, no.3 (2005): 245-69.

Shane Gunster, “You Belong Outside: Advertising, Nature and the SUV,” Ethics and the Environment 9, no.2 (2004): 23-40.

Rudolph P. Guadio, “Coffeetalk: StarbucksTM and the commercialization of casual conversation,” Language in Society 32 (2003): 659-91.


April 3-- Really ‘Going Global’: Tourism  (Makeup for Feb 18, to be discussed)


Louise Amoore, “Biometric borders: Governing mobilities in the war on terror,” Political Geography 25 (2006): 336-51.

Paige West and James G. Carrier, “Ecotourism and Authenticity – Getting away from it all?” Current Anthropology 45, no.4 (2004): 483-98.

Nancy A. Wonders and Raymond Michalowski, “Bodies, Borders, and Sex Tourism in a Globalized World: A Tale of Two Cities – Amsterdam and Havana,” Social Problems 48, no.4 (2001): 545-71.