Spring 2022

Sociology of Work:  Discourses on Toil

Listed in: Anthropology and Sociology, as SOCI-208


Utku B. Balaban (Section 01)


Sundays are not necessarily sunnier than Mondays. Nonetheless, most people prefer Sundays to Mondays. In this course, we discuss this interesting phenomenon in reference to the following question: which historical factors distinguish between days, hours, activities, and places within the “productive” and “unproductive” binary? We will review the basic theoretical perspectives on the homicide of homo ludens by homo faber, read excerpts from ethnographic and historical works on the transformation of the condition of labor from the late nineteenth century onwards in different regions of the world, and discuss the countervailing tendencies toward homogenization and diversification in the labor process, employment, and career building.

We will also look at how millennials have responded to some of the challenges pertinent to dual labor markets, such as investing further in their skills, “delaying” many of the common rites of passage such as marriage, and sometimes withdrawing partially from both productive and consumptive activities.

Along with these discussions, we will review some of the important labor datasets collected by key agencies and institutions such as Bureau of Labor Statistics, World Bank, ILO, and UnStat and use these materials to address the question of how the conditions of work may become diversified and/or homogenized, depending on the region, sector, and group of laborers. Students will gain the skills to assess the basic dynamics in work and employment relations and to investigate related empirical questions using a range of data sources.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on written work, oral presentations, group work, independent research. Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2022