FALL TERM 2022

This Fall 2022 term, our visiting professor is Stephen Maher, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Ontario Tech University. He will be teaching two courses, one for Political Economy (PECO 5503F) and one for Sociology (SOCI 5806).

PECO 5000F [0.5 credit]
Theories of Political Economy
Instructor: Stacy Douglas

This seminar examines both foundational and contemporary theoretical perspectives of capitalism, settler colonialism, the modern state, and relations of power. Contending views of the dynamics governing economic, political, and cultural changes in the modern era, and of modernity itself, will be explored. What light do these theories shed on processes of socio-economic change and the complex relationship between the economic, the cultural, and the political? How ought we to identify the collective actors engaged in making these changes, the sites of their interaction, and the processes through which collective identities are constituted? What are classes, and are they important? What of sex and gender, race, and other bases of both identity formation and oppression? Is ‘capitalism’ still a discrete entity (and was it ever so)? How does it intersect with racism and settler colonialism in Canada today? What is ‘neoliberalism’, and is ‘globalisation’ a new phenomenon? How do we make sense of economic and social crisis?

Course Outline 

PECO 5002F [0.5 credit]
Political Economy of Work and Labour
Instructor: Jane Stinson

Students in this seminar will analyze the social, political and economic conditions within which capital and labour interact in Canada. Key events in the history of Canadian work and labour as well as current concerns and emerging challenges will be examined. Actions by trade unions will be central in this analysis. Through the readings and discussions, we will consider and assess organizing, bargaining and political action strategies focussing on core concepts of mobilization and solidarity. The theme of equity in work and in the labour movement will be woven into readings and discussions. We will develop intersectional analytical skills to note and address inequalities of class, gender, race, abilities and sexual orientation in work and labour. Particular attention will be paid to the public sector, to the role of unions in challenging the growth of inequality and precarious employment and to the future of work post-pandemic.

Questions for seminar discussions include: What are the elements of effective organizing and bargaining strategies? How can the union movement mobilize and build solidarity between workers and with other members of society? What are decolonizing and inclusive strategies for the labour movement?  Why is intersectional analysis important and what difference will it make? Why is it important to recognize experience and build in reflective practices?

Course Outline

PECO 5501F (HIST 5315F/PSCI 5502F/SOCI 5505F) [0.5 credit]
State and Society in Canadian History – Natural Resources Extraction in Canadian History
Instructor: Dominic Marshall

An exploration of the complex history of the extraction of natural resources in Canada. It addresses Canada’s transnational relations of labour and business, Indigenous and traditional understandings of rights to the land at home and abroad, contrasting traditions and perspectives on the ecology and management of natural resources amongst users, activists, government agencies and civil society organizations, social and cultural histories of science and technology, questions of gender and generations, relations between humans and non-human inhabitants of the environment. It pays a particular attention to political and legal conflicts over the regulation of resources extraction, regulations of all sorts about use and preservation, contested or collaborative. The course features corresponding transnational perspectives, in conversations with African environmental/resource management experiences/practices from African and Latin American regions. The course also relies on the shared knowledge of an interdisciplinary group of students.

Course Outline

PECO 5503F (SOCI 5503/ PSCI 5504) [0.5 credit]
The Political Economy of Labour: From Social Democracy to Neoliberalism
Instructor: Stephen Maher

After its success in winning universal suffrage, Social Democratic parties were established to express the power of the labour movement in the parliaments of capitalist states. Yet neither these parties nor trade unions have been able to significantly challenge neoliberal restructuring, which has rolled back the important victories of the postwar “Glorious Thirty Years” – including rising standards of living, universal healthcare, pensions, unemployment insurance, and nationalization of some industries. Instead, Social Democratic parties have come to accommodate the “new realities” of capitalist globalization, and have even openly embraced market-oriented reforms under the rubric of the “Third Way.” Consequently, these parties – in many cases along with the trade unions that support them – became disconnected from their working-class base and, especially in the wake of the 2008 crisis, came to be widely delegitimated. Rather than transforming capitalist states, they were transformed by capitalism. Yet the various left alternatives that have emerged since 2008 have fared little better.

This course will focus on the relationship between labour, Social Democratic parties, and states. It will begin by covering the origins of Social Democracy and the mass party in the interwar years, and assess the role of these parties and trade unions in expanding the welfare state and improving workers’ living standards in different national contexts. We will also consider how trade unions and welfare states have both reproduced and challenged racial and gender hierarchies. The course will then evaluate the ‘impasse of Social Democratic politics’ by the 1980s by assessing the Meidner Plan, plans for codetermination, employee stock ownership plans, and ‘pension fund socialism.’ Subsequently, it will look at the impacts of post-1980s globalization on social democracy and trade unions, considering debates on ‘varieties of capitalism’ and the retrenchment of the welfare state. Finally, it will consider left alternatives – from Bennism in the UK to Die Linke, Bloco, Syriza, and Podemos – as well as possibilities for renewing social democratic politics and union power.

Course Outline 

SOCI 5806 G [0.5 credit]
Corporations, Finance, and the State
Instructor: Stephen Maher

For decades, it was all but taken for granted that globalization amounted to the marginalization of the nation-state by multinational corporations. Similarly, many saw the “financialization” that accompanied this as a harbinger of American decline, as production was “hollowed out” by financial speculation. However, challenges from a resurgent hard-right, the center-left push for social programs and a stronger industrial policy, and the stimulus states extended amidst the Covid-19 pandemic have fuelled speculation about the “return of the state” and even the end of neoliberalism. All this raises fundamental questions about the relationship between the state, corporations, and finance, especially in relation to the American state’s role in “making global capitalism.” Central to this project has been the liberalization of finance, which enabled the globalization of production and intensified competitive pressures even as it came to account for a larger share of corporate profits and GDP. Has finance undermined US power, or is it a foundation of American hegemony? Was neoliberalism marked by the retreat of the state; and if not, what are we to make of its return?

This course will proceed by tracing the historical development of the relationship between the corporation and finance over time – from the bank-centered ‘finance capital’ of the nineteenth century, to the postwar ‘managerial’ period, and finally the neoliberal era and beyond. It will explore in particular the role of state institutions in shaping this relationship and structuring corporate organization, including the formation of the modern corporation and financial system through large-scale public works projects, the subsequent role of the military-industrial complex, and the post-1970s shift from capital controls to free trade. Further, the course will probe the relationship between American hegemony, the extension and integration of global finance, and corporate restructuring, and consider competing arguments around “financialization” and American decline. In this context, we will also assess the financialization of the corporation in relation to competing perspectives about monopoly and competition. Finally, the course will explore whether the changing structure of the financial system since 2008 suggests that global capitalism is now entering a post-neoliberal phase.

Course Outline 

PECO 5900 [0.5 credit]
Tutorial in Political Economy

Directed readings on selected aspects of political economy, involving preparation of papers as the basis for discussion with the tutor. Offered when no regular course offering meets a candidate’s specific needs.
Prerequisite(s): Permission of the Director.
Form: Tutorial Approval Form

WINTER TERM 2023

This Winter 2023 term, our visiting professor is Dr. Ashima Sood. Dr. Sood is an Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Centre for Urbanism and Cultural Economics at Anant National University. Dr. Sood will be teaching two courses, one for Political Economy (PECO 5504W) and one for Sociology (SOCI 5806).

PECO 5001W [0.5 credit]
Methodology of Political Economy
Instructor: Karen Hébert

This seminar prepares students to undertake a significant independent research project at the graduate level. Designed largely as a workshop, the course provides hands-on training in how to design, conduct, and produce scholarly research. Course materials provoke students to think critically about methodology and their own methodological choices as researchers. Topics include the relationship of methodology to matters of theory and evidence, as well as to epistemology and the ethics and politics of knowledge production. These concerns will also be linked to more nuts-and-bolts issues, including how to turn a broad project topic into one or more researchable questions. It sets out to expand students’ awareness of the range of methodologies they might enlist in their work and provide them with tools for evaluating the research methods best suited to their own questions, training, and objects of inquiry.

Course Outline

PECO 5504W/SOCI 5806W/PSCI 5915X/ANTH 5708I [0.5 credit]
Issues in Work and Labour: Informal Systems in the Global South
Instructor: Ashima Sood

This research-intensive module aims to introduce postgraduate students to the genesis and dimensions of informal systems in cities of the Global South. Through secondary research into forms of informality, students will be guided to understand the importance of informal systems in retail, transport, construction, security, waste processing and housing, as well as emerging forms of gig labor, among other domains. Students will explore sources of secondary data on the informal economy and be encouraged to critically examine the linkages between informal labor, infrastructure systems and settlement patterns.

The course can also incorporate exposure to primary research through virtual interviews with workers in street vending, casual labor as well as self-employed workers, mediated and moderated by the course instructor.

Course Outline – TBA

SOCI 5806[0.5 credit]
Political Economy of Urban Development in the Global South
Instructor: Ashima Sood

What is the relationship between planned development and unplanned growth in cities of the Global South? Urbanization in these settings is marked by persistent patterns of dualism and uneven development. Drawing from perspectives across disciplines and global
literature, this course analyses the correlates and processes of uneven urban development in four parts.

Key contributions to the literature connecting the local and the global and processes of structural transformation provide the initial frame. Then the course analyzes the major themes in the urbanization experience of the Global South and how they have contributed
to patterns of dualism. The next part examines the contested claims to the city, with reference to informality and infrastructure; and the final part examines urban growth in representative cities in light of the foregoing analysis. These city studies allow students the
opportunity to analyze how these processes have unfolded in specific urban settings.

This course will provide a critical lens on the economic bases of urbanization, including topics such as agglomeration economies and clusters, structural transformation and migration, public economics and local public finance, urban governance institutions and the
economics of land.

Course Outline – TBA

PECO 5900 [0.5 credit]
Tutorial in Political Economy

Directed readings on selected aspects of political economy, involving preparation of papers as the basis for discussion with the tutor. Offered when no regular course offering meets a candidate’s specific needs.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of the Director.
Form: Tutorial Approval Form

PECO 6000W [0.5 credit]
Political Economy: Core Concepts
Instructor: Danielle DiNovelli-Lang

Drawing on classical and contemporary writings, this course provides an opportunity to reflect on core concepts in political economy. Topics will be selected in consultation with participating units, taking into account the potential number of students, their research interests and those of the participating units.