Compiled Contents of:Syllabus


Content File: Objectives

How is employment changing?  What distinguishes the new economy from the old economy?  How do people find better jobs?  What are employers looking for when they hire workers?  This course will attempt to answer these and other questions by contrasting the new and the old economy.  In the old economy people often worked their entire lives for the same employer.  Why did workers stay with the same firm?  Why did employers want to retain their employees?  In the new economy employers want flexibility.  Why do they want flexibility and how do they attempt to achieve it?  What consequences does the quest for flexibility have for how people become employed?  

The focus of the course will be on employment in the United States, though we will also look at changes occurring in other countries, especially in Europe.  A wide range of issues will be investigated from a sociological perspective such as how labor markets operate, why internal labor markets with promotion opportunities emerged, the role of social networks in finding jobs, the effects of globalization, increased competition and deregulation on employment, how people move between jobs, the growing importance of temporary employment, the role of intermediaries such as staffing agencies, gender differences in employment, and governmental regulatory policies.


Content File: Modules

The seminar is divided into 8 topical modules.
  1. The Post WW II "Social Contract"
  2. The Transformation of Work & Employment 
  3. Changes in Labor Market Polices & Institutions
  4. The Temporary Employment Relationship
  5. The Temporary Staffing Industry
  6. Contacting Out of Work
  7. Worker Experiences in Changing Labor Markets
  8. Comparative Analysis of Employment Systems

Content File: Readings

All readings are listed in the Course Calendar Tool. All articles and book chapters are available through electronic reserves. The following five books that we will be reading can be purchased through the Bookstore:

Capelli, Peter. 1999. The New Deal at Work: Managing the Market-Driven Workplace. Boston, MA: Harvard University Business School Press.

Osterman, Paul. 1999. Securing Prosperity. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Osterman, Paul. 2001. Working in America a Blueprint for the New Labor Market. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Smith, Vicki. 2001. Crossing the Great Divide Worker Risk and Opportunity in the New Economy. Ithaca: ILR Press.

Vosko, Leah F. 2000. Temporary Work:  The Gendered Rise of a Precarious Employment Relationship. Toronto, Buffalo: University of Toronto Press.


Content File: Requirements

This course is a seminar and is, therefore, designed to help you explore and discuss the material that we will be reading. I will not lecture. Instead class sessions will be discussions that I will facilitate. There are no examinations. Instead you are required to write papers, post comments in online discussions, and help lead discussions.

Content File: Seminar Participation

In order to make seminar sessions interesting and to involve all of us, both you and me, all of usneed to prepare for each seminar. For all seminar sessions, excluding the Book Discussion sessions, everyone is required to:
  1. Read the material in advance
  2. Come to class with a short list of 2-3 questions, ideas, insights or issues that you want to discuss with the other members of the seminar.

My assessment of your questions, preparation and participation in the seminar discussions will contribute 10% to your final grade.


Content File: Book Discussion Groups

Every seminar participant will volunteer to be a member of the one Book Discussion Group (using the Book Discussion Group sign-up sheet on the course homepage). Each Book Discussion Group will be responsible for collectively:
  1. Leading the seminar discussions of its book
  2. Writing a 5-6 page reflection paper that reflects on the seminar discussions of the book.

The 3 books that we will discuss in this fashion are:

  • Vosko's Temporary Work
  • Smith's Crossing the Great Divide
  • Bergstrom's Final Report, New Understanding of European Work Organization.  This is technically not a book but a long online report that you can obtain through the Electronic Reserve link.

My assessment of the group's paper and leadership of the discussion will contribute 15% to your final grade.


Content File: Role Play

Everyone is required to select by Monday, January 22nd on an occupation, industry or type of worker that they will pretend to be throughout the course. After selecting the role you will play throughout the semester, use the WebCT Discussion Tool to post a message online in which you briefly discuss what role you will be playing and why you chose to play that role. Then ss we discuss material in each module you will reflect on the material from the perspective you have chosen to role play. I have set up 8 online discussion topics where you can post your reflections and react to the reflections of other seminar participants who are playing other roles. I will read, react and evaluate your posts (on a 0-10 scales). My assessment will contribute 10% to your final grade.

Content File: Module Reflection Paper

All seminar members must sign up using the sign up sheet on the course homepage to write one reflection paper on our discussions during one of the following modules:
  • Module 2: The Transformation of Work & Employment
  • Module 3: Changes in Labor Market Policies & Institutions
  • Module 5: The Temporary Staffing Industry
  • Module 6: Contracting Out Work

Papers should reflect on what you have learned from both the readings and the seminar discussions. The papers should not be summaries of the readings and discussions.

In writing these papers think about the following questions: Did you change your views as a result of the readings and/or discussions? If so, what were your former views, what are your new views, and why did you change your ideas? If not, what are your positions and views and how did the readings and discussions help to reinforce your views.

My assessment of your papers will contribute 15% to your final grade. Papers must be submitted through WebCT using the assignment tool and are due 2 class sessions after we have completed the module.


Content File: Research Paper

You are required to write a 20-30 page research paper on a topic you have chosen and on which you have done some research. To facilitate writing this paper you will complete the following assignments (see Assignment Tool for more information and due dates):
  • Topic Selection
  • Meeting with me to discuss your topic
  • Bibliography (5% of final grade)
  • Outline & Annotated Bibliography (5% of final grade)
  • Paper Draft
  • Final Paper (40% of final grade)


Content File: Letter to Number Grade Conversion Table

Letter Grade

Number Grade