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Sociology 230

Sociology of Work

Credits: 3

Length of Course: 14 weeks

Classroom Hours per Week: 4

Prerequisite: Sociology 110, Anthropology 110, and 12 credits

Corequisite: English 100

Text: J. Sallaz.Labor, Economy, and Society. New Jersey, 2013.

Course Description:

This course explores the social organization of work by drawing on key sociological theories, research, and concepts, with a focus on Canadian society. We also explore transformations in work within broader global processes, including migration, immigration, temporary workers, and more. Some of the key topics covered include the following: capitalist work arrangements, corporate practices, labor movements, consumption, the impact of employment/unemployment on the individual and family, and the impact of class, power, race, gender, and age in the labor market. We identify industries, bureaucracies, technological developments, the division of labor, and patterns of employment and careers. The main objective of this course is to help us understand, analyze, and evaluate how work is socially organized and how it profoundly shapes our social lives.

Learning Objectives

Students will gain an insight into conceptualizing work through the discipline of sociology. They will familiarize themselves with specific terminologies, concepts, theories, and methodologies. Students will advance in their sociological learning with a particular topic that is relevant to their early career experiences and explorations in Canada.

Course Outline:

Week Chapter Topic
1 Chap. 1 “Introduction: What good is work?” Introduction to key concepts and theories about the organization of work
2 & 3 Chap. 2 “The Great Transformation of Work.” The history and culture of labor; (plus handout)
3 Chap. 3 “Classifying Labor” The workers and the workplace
4 Chap. 4 “Commensuration Labor.” The value of work: salaries, wages, income
5 Chap. 5 “Making Labor Markets.” From the raw material to the finished product
6   Midterm Exam; and film and discussion: Norma Rae.
7 Chap. 7 “Labor and Group-Making.” Workers’ involvement, trade unions, charities
8 Chap. 6 “Controlling Labor.” Mechanization and Bureaucratization (plus handout)
9 Handout Labor, Immigration, and Inequality
10 Handout Gender division of Labor
11 2 Handouts Domestic Workers, and the Aging Workforce
12-13 Chap. 8 “Conclusion: What Good is Embeddedness?” Post-industrial society, corporation, globalization, and McDonaldization; plus handout, film: The Corporation; and discussion
14   Final Exam


Participation 10%
Midterm Exam 1 20%
Midterm Exam 2 20%
Assignments 20%
Final Exam 30%



Agnes MacDonald, B.A. M.A. PhD. (British Columbia)

Transferability: see