AP/SOSC 3815 3.00
Inequality And Canadian Labour Market
This is a course that addresses one of the most pressing social, political and economic issues of our age: inequality and its impact on work and workers. The proportion of global wealth owned and controlled by the rich – along with the political power that accompanies it – has reached unprecedented levels across the globe. At the same time, poor and working class communities around the world increasingly struggle to get ahead as cutthroat competition, weak labour and environmental laws, corporate bullying tactics and inadequate governance mechanisms make matters worse. Over the past four decades, policymakers have redesigned labour market policies in order to increase so-called flexibility in the operation of labour markets. However, these changes have led to a significant rise of precarious work, deunionization and general wage stagnation. In this course, we will assess the dynamics and impacts of this new ‘age of inequality’, its impacts across race, class, gender, ethnicity and other aspects. Students will discuss and engage in a series of class discussions on policy issues including the relationship of capitalism to inequality, the role of public services and public investment, tax havens, corporate power, health and environmental inequalities, intergenerational (im)mobility, labour, the law and democracy. Despite the newfound interest in inequality, however, its causes and proposed solutions remain subject to fierce debate. Students will consider and discuss a range of solutions so that – to paraphrase social scientist Karl Marx – they can not only interpret the world but change it.