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Labor and Social Justice

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Created: August 8, 2003
Latest Update: August 8, 2003

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Index of Topics on Site Labor, Its Productivity, and Social Justice

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, August 2003.
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From the site of Robert Mazur, Syllabus for Comparative Social Change, Iowa State University.
I wanted you to see this syllabus for a graduate course at another sociology department, and realize the universality with which we now address these problems. Labor and social justice are galloping towards new norms. And we are not going into that dark night quietly. The issues of answerability and illocutionary discourse are coming up in every discipline, in every college, in every nation-state. You, too, have a voice. And not to answer, at this point, is to be complicit.

Discussion Questions

  1. Suppose we asked you to do a comparative analysis of the two pictures? What points would you make?

    Consider the two age groups represented? Each of them must feel the injustice differently. How are those injustices linked? Consider opportunity, future, play, education, parental control, etc.

    Consider the relative wealth of the characters in the two pictures. How is the wealth symbolized? Consider place. Does the impoverished company have a "place" designated for "play?" Does the wealthier country have a work space designated in the "child's area?" What do you suppose the separation of places represents? Consider discretionary time.

    Consider the manufacture of a product. How do each of these people relate to the product? Does the young boy in the wealthier country represent the owner, and the young boy in the poorer country the worker? Consider standard of living and normative expectations. Consider Marx's ideas of commodification. What has been commodified in the poorer country that has not been commodified in the wealthier country? Consider play, school, work.

  2. Why should we engage in comparative studies when we haven't worked out our own labor and social problems yet?

    Consider that whether we have solved problems locally or not may be irrelevant when we move to a global market and to global governance. As jobs move out of this country, including jobs for the college-educated, our problems become global, not local, problems. White Collar Blues.

  3. Why should we be concerned with syllabi in other colleges when they can have no effect on our grades?

    Consider that as we move toward a global market we also move toward a national market in job mobility, and you may find yourself having to move from area to area in pursuit of the job market. A sense of what is being studied in other colleges, what other reading lists look like, may give you a more realistic sense of how to guage how others are educated. Less and less is being decided on a local level.

  4. What was the old classical sociology term for this local/global split?

    Consider local versus cosmopolitan.

    What would you consider the normative expectations of the people in the two pictures to be like?

    Consider Local versus Cosmopolitan Narrative