Module Catalogue 2019/20

GEO3146 : Geographies of Working Lives

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Al James
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Code Title
GEO2099Economic Geography
GEO2103Development & Globalisation
GEO2110Social Geographies
Pre Requisite Comment

Students taking this module require a sound background in Economic Geography, Social Geography and Globalisation and Development. Students must therefore have at least TWO of these pre-requisite modules.

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment

N/A

Aims

1. To explore the geographical diversity of people's everyday struggles to make a living in the contemporary global economy.

2. To introduce students to an exciting ‘labour geographies’ research agenda, that builds on and extends key concepts in Economic Geography and Globalisation and Development developed in Stage 2.

3. To demonstrate how ‘labour’ is much more than a passive input to firms’ production processes, and how different groups of workers are capable of actively fashioning the geography of capitalism to suit their own needs and self-reproduction.

4. To decenter the ‘mainstream’ (Western-focused) labour geographies research agenda through new empirical engagements with different groups of workers working within, between and across the global North and global South, and through new intellectual collaborations with development geographers.

5. To encourage students to recognise and challenge the spatial limits of mainstream 'universal' theories in geography which presume that 'the economy' can be theorised solely from the perspective of the formal spaces of advanced capitalist economies in the global North.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module explores the economic-development geographies of people's everyday struggles to make a living in the contemporary global economy. Drawing on research within and across the Global North and Global South, this module engages with an exciting 'labour geographies' research agenda, concerned with how workers are capable of fashioning the geography of capitalism to suit their own needs and self-production; and to identify geographical possibilities and labour market strategies through which ‘workers may challenge, outmanoeuvre and perhaps even beat capital’ in different locations. The module seeks to expose the spatial limits of mainstream 'universal' theories in geography which presume that 'the economy' and 'labour' can be theorised solely from the perspective of the formal spaces of advanced capitalist economies in the global North.

Lecture structure:

Part 1 – New Worlds of Work (in Economic Geography’s Western heartland)

1.       Module Introduction - Where are the Workers? (from the West to the rest); Reconsidering ‘labour’ (from geographies of labour, to labour geographies)
2.       Flexibilising Work and (un)Employment in Austerity
3.       Work-Life (im)Balance: Work Intensification, Willing Slaves, and the Crisis of Well-Being
4.       Feminising Work: Is the Best Man for the Job is a Woman?


Part 2 – Postcolonial Working Lives (Connecting Global North and Global South)

5.       Global Labour Arbitrage, Bodyshopping and the New Argonauts
6.       Working in the World’s Back Office: graduate (un)employment in India’s New Service Economy
7.       Global Cities at Work: Migrant Divisions of Labour

FORMATIVE FEEDBACK ON CW ESSAY PLANS

Part 3 – Alternative Work Futures

8.       Union Busting Versus the Rise of Alternative Labour Organising
9.       Prosumers and Post-Work Possibilities in the Sharing Economy
10.       Alternative Livelihoods: Local Exchange Trading Systems and the Death of Class Inequality?

Wrap - Up
11. Globalising Labour Geographies: Module summary overview.
12. REVISION

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of the course students will:

•       Understand the geographical diversity of people's everyday struggles to make a living in the twenty-first century.

•       Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: changing lived experiences of work and employment, the operation of local labour markets, growing social polarisation in the ‘new’ economy, changing spatial divisions of labour in an era of globalisation, and the intersection of gender, race and work.

•       Have a critical and reflexive sense of the nature of 'labour geography' and 'economic geography' as dynamic, plural, contested (and increasingly hybridised) sub-disciplines.

•       Understand how workers are capable of fashioning the geography of capitalism to suit their own needs and self-production.

•       Understand the geographical possibilities and labour market strategies through which ‘workers may challenge, outmaneuver and perhaps even beat capital’ in different locations.

•       Understand the intellectual benefits of 'theorising back' on western-centric theories of labour, work and employment from the global South, as part of an expanded labour geographies agenda that engages in new conversations with development geographers.

Intended Skill Outcomes

An ability to recognise and explain the central relevance of geographical analyses to major academic and policy debates around labour, work, employment and livelihood.

An ability to critically synthesise and integrate a range of academic literatures related to work, employment, labour geographies and livelihood.

An ability to link the theory taught on the course with personal experiences of work and employment.

An ability to construct and write a persuasive argument that sets the essay question / topic / debate in its wider context, combines a range of research literatures, data and empirical case studies in novel ways, and explores their wider policy and disciplinary implications.

Development of a more global perspective around the challenges and realities of work and employment in theory and in practice, understood through engagement with workers in and across the global North and global South.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery61:006:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1162:00162:00N/A
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce, develop and illustrate theories and empirical material relating to different geographies of work, employment, and labour.

Seminars provide an opportunity for more interactive student-led discussion around key authors and seminal texts, alongside integrated analysis and presentation of relevant empirical case study material.

Specialist films and associated seminars provide illustrations of case studies on new worlds of work, postcolonial working lives, and alternative work futures.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Exams
Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A50N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M502000 word essay – choose 1 question from 3 set
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The unseen exam will test students understanding of the basic concepts outlined in the module, and abilities to engage with the relevant academic literature. The 2000 word essay tests students' ability to explore subjects in depth, demanding critical reading and writing skills and an ability to gather and synthesise material and to formulate a rigorous argument.

Timetable

Past Exam Papers

General Notes

N/A

Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.