Labor, Development, and Democracy Syllabus

Emory University Course
Thursday 4-7 206 Tarbutton Hall

View course syllabus

Course Convener

Prof. Richard Doner
304 Tarbutton Hall
Tel: 404-727-7914
Office Hours: Wednesday 2-5

Course Overview

This is a cross-disciplinary course devoted to the analysis of labor and its relationship to development (in its diverse forms) and the quality of our political life. We are especially interested in understanding the increasingly contingent (e.g. informal, contract) nature of labor as an employment relationship and the ways in which that relationship affects the quality of people's lives as individuals, as producers, as family members, and as citizens. The course has thus been inspired by broad changes in labor markets that raise important empirical and normative questions about economic opportunity, the sustainability and quality of economic growth, and political freedom. These issues affect Emory students, both directly and indirectly, yet there is a striking dearth of teaching on labor questions at this university. Helping students and faculty to navigate these issues as citizens, producers and consumers is a responsibility of an ethically engaged university. Labor is of course a multifaceted concept with social, economic and political dimensions. Because this complexity is appropriately addressed through a range of disciplinary lenses, the course will be taught by over 15 faculty from departments, schools and organizations, including political science, anthropology, sociology, business, economics, nursing, history, and law. All but three of the instructors are members of the Emory faculty. Each class session will be led by one or two instructors and will address a specific labor-related topic. Despite the broad range of these topics, our intention is that all are informed by a number of core themes, among which are the following:

  1. Changing nature of work, workers, and the emergence of precarious labor
  2. Need to reconcile good jobs with firm competitiveness, productivity and profitability
  3. (In)visibility of labor and the health of democracy
  4. Tension between labor market flexibility and healthy communities, families, and citizenship
  5. Link between global and local dynamics
  6. Promise and limits of legal reforms
  7. Variable link between labor on the one hand, and gender and ethnicity on the other.
  8. Need for disciplinary grounding and the benefits of cross-disciplinary analysis


The class will operate in a quasi-seminar format: Roughly half of each session will involve a presentation by the instructor(s) and initial responses by one or two designated students. The second half of the session will be devoted to an open discussion of both the instructor presentation and the assigned readings. The readings will range from 60-100 pages per week, with extra reading assigned to the graduate students in the class.

Participation (30%): Given the time devoted to discussion, class participation will be a critical component of the course grade. Participation includes being present, having read the assigned material, and engaging in class discussion (which also means listening and responding constructively to the views of classmates). Please note that graduate students are also required to cover all or some of the supplementary readings as determined by that week's instructor(s).

Response Memos (30%): Each student must submit five response memos during the course of the semester. Students will select topics on which to write memos during the first class session. The memos are to be two-three pages in length. You are to choose one of two strategies for your memo: 1. Find the most difficult or opaque section from one of the readings assigned. Explain what you think it means, why you think it difficult to understand, and how you think it relates to other class topics and/or themes. 2. Find the passage from one of our readings that best explains that particular readings or contains the crucial argument. Describe why the passage is so crucial to the reading. Explain how you think the reading relates to other class topics and/or broad themes.

Final Project (40%): Each student will produce a final written paper of roughly 20 pages (collective or group projects are acceptable and would be commensurably longer). The precise nature of the project can vary. It can be a research project, based on fieldwork and/or secondary material, designed to describe a phenomenon, to explain a puzzle, to test a theory, or to propose a policy solution or legal brief. It can be a straightforward ethnography designed to explore a topic through the eyes of a participant. Or it can be a more interpretive and/or narrative project in which the objective is to reflect on a phenomenon through more a more humanistic style of presentation (e.g. short story). Regardless of the form, the paper should be self conscious about the strengths and weaknesses of the particular approach adopted.


Reading materials from academic journals will be available through the ejournals portal of the Emory library website. Other materials, unless otherwise noted, will be posted on Blackboard Course Documents for each particular week.


1. Jan. 17 Introduction (Prof. Richard Doner, Pol. Science)


Review of course. Disciplines and cross-disciplines. Globalization and the challenge of reconciling competitiveness and the social contract.


  • FDR “Economic Bill of Rights”
  • FDR “Commonwealth Club Address” Stephanie Barrientos,
  • Gary Gereffi and Arianna Rossi,” Economic and Social Upgrading in Global Production Networks: Developing a Framework for Analysis.”
  • Karl Polanyi. The Great Transformation. Ch. 6
  • Ruth Collier, "Introduction: Elite Conquest or Working-Class Triumph," in Collier, Paths Toward Democracy: The Working Class and Elites in Western Europe and South America (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999), pp. 1-32.
  • John Locke, “Of Property,” Second Treatise of Government, Ch. 5, pp. 24-30.


  • Eva Bellin. 2000. “Contingent Democrats: Industrialists, Labor, and Democratization in Late-Developing Countries,” World Politics 52 (January), 175-205.
  • Martha Fineman, "Recasting the Social Contract," in Fineman, The Autonomy Myth: A Theory of Dependency (New York: The New Press), pp. 218-240.
  • Paul Pierson, “Increasing Returns, Path Dependence and the Study of Politics.” American Political Science Review (June 2000).
  • Victoria Murillo and Andrew Schrank, "Labor Organizations and Their Role in the Era of Political and Economic Reform," in Scartascini, Stein and Tommasi, eds., How Democracy Works: Political Institutions, Actors, and Arenas in Latin American Policymaking (Inter-American Development Bank, 2010), pp. 247-268.
  • Stephan Haggard and Robert Kaufman. 2012. "Inequality and Regime Change: Democratic Transitions and the Stability of Democratic Rule," American Political Science Review 106:3 (August), pp. 1-22.
  • Philippe Schmitter: Review: Democracy's Third Wave Philippe C. Schmitter, The Review of Politics, 55:2 (Spring, 1993), pp. 348-351.

2. Jan. 24 Unions and Associations in American Democracy: Past and Present. (Prof. Theda Skocpol, Harvard University)


Shifting nature and strength of unions and associations in the U.S. Impact on nature of democracy and policy in historical perspective.



  • Kim Voss and Rick Fantasia, HARD WORK: REMAKING THE AMERICAN LABOR MOVEMENT (University of California Press, 2004), Ch. 1, "Why Labor Matters," pp. 1-33.

3. Jan. 31 Labor as Social Class (Prof. Alex Hicks - Sociology)


Definitions of class. 


  • Eric Wright, Class Counts,
  • Alex Hicks, Social Democracy and Welfare Capitalism: A Century of Income Security Politics, Ch TBA
  • Martin and Swank, The Political Construction of Business Interests Chs TBA

4. Feb. 7 Economics of Labor Markets (Prof. Len Carlson, Economics)


Labor market as viewed in economics: demand factors; supply of labor and human capital; China as a case study.


  • N. Gregory Mankiw, Principles of Microeconomics, Sixth Edition, South-Western Cengage Learning, 2009, 2012, ch. 18, “Markets for the Factors of Production,” ch 19, “Earnings and Discrimination”
  • Grady Klein and Yoram Bauman, The Cartoon Introduction to Economics: Vol. Two: Macroeconomics, chapter 8, “The Classical View of Trade,” and ch 9, “Complications.”
  • Can Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer,  keep growing and improve its margins now that cheap and willing hands are scarce?” The Economist,  Dec 15th 2012. 
  • Li, Hongbin, Lei Li, Binzhen Wu, and Yanyan Xiong, “The End of Cheap Chinese Labor,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, Fall 2012, pp. 57-74

5. Feb. 14 Citizenship, Unionization and Legal Protection: Rural Agricultural Workers in Latin America (Prof. Tom Rogers,  History)

Description:  Urban vs. rural labor in Latin America. Rural Unionization, evolution of labor representation and legal protection at local and national levels.


  • Rachel K. Brickner, “Mexican Union Women and the Social Construction of Women’s Labor Rights,” Latin American Perspectives 33, no 6 (Nov 2006): 55-74.
  • Steven Levitsky and Scott Mainwaring, “Organized Labor and Democracy in Latin America,” Comparative Politics 39, no 1 (Oct 2006): 21-42.
  • Biorn Maybury-Lewis, The Politics of the Possible: The Brazilian Rural Workers’ Trade Union Movement, 1964-1985 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994), chapter 3, “Nazaré da Mata, Pernambuco: Birthplace of the CONTAG Line.”

6.  Feb. 21  Health and Education in the Labor Market: Early Childhood Education (Prof. Dave Frisvold, Economics); Occupational Health in Migrant Farm Workers (Prof. Judith Wold, Nursing)

Description (Frisvold)

Analyzes importance of education in labor market outcomes; contrast the potential benefits from job training programs with education programs; assess the lasting benefits of early childhood intervention programs.

Reading (Frisvold)  

James J. Heckman and Dimitriy V. Materov, “The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children,”  National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper No 13016, (April 2007)

Description (Wold):   “Farm Worker Family Health Program” – Review and analysis of 20 years of experience delivering health care to migrant workers in South Georgia through the Farm Worker Family Health Program; identifies specific health problems of migrant workers; highlights importance of engaged learning, community partnership, and integrated, comprehensive approach to healthcare in marginalized communities.

Readings (Wold)

  • Andrea C. Weathers and Herbert G. Garrison, : Children of Migratory Agricultural Workers: The Ecological Context of Acute Care for a Mobile Population of Immigrant Children.” BB/content
  • James Dwyer, “Illegal Immigrants, Health Care, and Social Responsibility,” Hastings Center Report (Jan-Feb 2004)  BB/content
  • John S. Luque et al., “Mobile Farm Clinic Outreach to Address Health Conditions among Latino Migrant Farmworkers in Georgia,” Journal of Agromedicine, 17:386–397, 2012  BB/content
  • Southern Poverty Law Center, Under Siege: Life for Low-Income Latinos in the South (April 2009),

7.  Feb. 27-28  Economic Transformation and the Changing Nature of Work (Arne Kalleberg, Sociology, UNC, Chapel Hill)


  • Kalleberg, “Precarious Work, Insecure Workers,” Presidential Address, American Sociological Association,  American Journal of Sociology, 74:1 (February 2009) – BB contents.
  • Kalleberg, Good Jobs, Bad Jobs, selected chapter TBA – BB contents.

8.  March 7 Labor Rights and Standards: Human Rights and Labor Rights (David Davis, Political Science);  Corporate Social Responsibility (Wesley Longhofer, Business School)

Description (Longhofer)

Review corporate social responsibility. Challenges of monitoring and compliance.

Readings (Longhofer):

  • Locke, Richard, Matthew Amengual and Akshay Mangla. 2009. “Virtue out of Necessity? Compliance, Commitment, and the Improvement of Labor Conditions in Global Supply Chains.” Politics and Society 37: 319-351.
  • Bair, Jennifer and Sam Bernstein. 2006. “Labor and the Wal-Mart Effect.” Pp. 99-113 in Wal-Mart World: The World’s Biggest Corporation in the Global Economy, Stanley Brunn, ed. New York: Routledge.
  • Ruggie, John. 2008. “Protect, Respect and Remedy: a Framework for Business and Human Rights.” United Nations.
  • Tilly, Chris. 2007. “Wal-Mart and Its Workers: NOT the Same All Over the world.” Connecticut Law Review 29(4): 1805-1823.
  • Selection from Jefferson Cowie’s Capital Moves: RCA’s Seventy-Year Quest for Cheap Labor.
  • Selection from Lichtenstein’s Wal-Mart: The Face of the Twenty-First Century Capitalism.

Description (Davis)

Labor rights, human rights and public international law. Positive and negative consequences of globalization on labor rights and working conditions.  Strategic and institutional approaches to respecting labor. Cases: International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers; The Global Compact.

Readings (Davis)

  • Newland, Kathleen. 1999. Workers of the World, Now What?  Foreign Policy. 114, p52-64.
  • Richard B. Freeman. The Battle over labor rights in the global economy. 
  • Lee, Eddy. 1997 Globalization and labour standards: A review of issues.” International Labour Review. 136: 173-190.
  • Greenhill, Brian et. al 2009. “Trade Based Diffusion of Labor Rights” American Political Science Review.

March 14 Spring Break

9.  March 21   Student Presentation of Class Project Proposals

10.  March 28 Gender: The Gender of Labor (Prof. Carla Freeman, Anthropology); Labor, Vulnerability and the Evolving Social Contract (Prof. Martha Fineman (Law)

Description (Freeman):  "Gendering Labor and Unpacking Class: Case Studies from the Service Sector" - This unit poses the following general questions: how are labor forces defined, and what are the underlying structures that have come to define certain sectors predominantly as masculine or feminine?  How are "ideal" workers created and disciplined? What capacities come to count as "skill" and what are the implications of emotional and aesthetic labor in the growing service economy?  We will focus upon three realms: domestic service and the global care chain; transnational information processing and customer service/call centers; retail sales.  

Readings (Freeman)

  • Barbara Ehrenreich "Maid to Order" 
  • Arlie Hochschild "Love and Gold" 
  • Nicole Constable "Filipina Workers in Hong Kong Homes: household rules and regulations"
  • B. Ehrenreich and A. Hochschild (eds.) Global Woman: Nannies Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy.   NY: Holt. 2000. - selections TBA
  • Carla Freeman (2006) "Femininity and Flexible Labor: Fashioning Class Through Gender on the Global Assembly Line," in Ellen Lewin (ed.) Feminist Anthropology. 397-411.  Blackwell Publishing
  • Kiran Mirchandani "Learning Racial Hierarchies: Communication Skills Training in Transnational Customer Service Work" Journal of Workplace Learning. Vol 24, No 5, 2012.
  • Christine Williams and Catherine Connell "Looking Good and Sounding Right: Aesthetic Labor and Social Inequality in Retail" Work and Occupations. Vol 37, No. 3:349-August 2010

Description (Fineman):  Evolving position of labor as it relates to the social contract and the employment contract.

Readings (Fineman):

  • Martha Fineman, "The Tentative Workplace," in Fineman, The Autonomy Myth, pp. 241-262.
  • Katherine Stone, "The New Psychological Contract: Implications of the Changing Workplace for Labor and Employment Law," UCLA Law Review 519 (2001).

11. April 4    Workforce and Community Development (Michael Rich, Pol. Science and Office of University Community Partnership)

Description:   Overview of the institutional and policy framework for workforce development in the U.S., focusing on the urban context, the emergence of a new institutional and strategic approach to addressing many of the problems of the current system, and an introduction to the new prototype of collaborative, cross-sector partnerships as manifest in Centers for Working Families. 


  • Robert P. Giloth, “The ‘Local’ in Workforce Development Politics: An Introduction,” pp. 1-29 in Robert p. Giloth, ed., Workforce Development Politics: Civic Capacity and Performance (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004)
  • Robert P. Giloth, “Comparative Workforce Development Politics in Six Cities: Theory and Action,” pp. 212-248 in Robert p. Giloth, ed., Workforce Development Politics: Civic Capacity and Performance (Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 2004)
  • Christopher Walker and John Foster-Bey, “Community Development Intermediation and Its Lessons for the Workforce Field,” pp. 336-366 in Robert P. Giloth, ed., Workforce Intermediaries for the Twenty-First Century (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004)
  • An Integrated Approach to Fostering Family Economic Success: How Three Model Sites Are Implementing the Center for Working Families Approach” (Baltimore: Annie E. Casey Foundation, January 2010) (14 pages) 

12. April 11 Comparative Worlds of Social Welfare: Russia and China (Prof. Tom Remington, Pol. Science)


 This session will discuss the transformation of the "social contract" between labor and the state in Russia and China as a consequence of the transition to a market-oriented economic system.  The old socialist welfare state linked social control to comprehensive welfare benefits for urban workers.  The replacement of the socialist economic model to capitalism has brought with it new sources of insecurity, opportunity, and inequality.  In China it has also led to a massive migration of rural laborers to the cities, where they have provided a vast source of low-wage labor for China's export-led economic development.  Both countries have put many formerly state-provided social guarantees (such as employment, housing, health care, and education) on a fully or partly-market footing.  Other state-funded benefits have been transformed into social insurance funds. The experience of Russia and China with market transition raises basic questions about the terms of labor's incorporation into society in market economies.  Under what conditions can the risks and rewards of economic growth be shared across social divisions? 


  • Pu  Ngai and Lu Huilin, "A Culture of Violence: The Labor Subcontracting System and Collective Action by Construction Workers in Post-Socialist China,"  The China Journal. no. 64, 2010. pp. 143-158.
  • Peter W. Mackenzie. "Strangers in the City: The Hukou and Urban Citizenship in China," Journal of International Affairs,  56:1 (Fall 2002), pp. 305-319.
  • Stephen Crowley, "Barriers to Collective Action: Steelworkers and Mutual Dependence in the Former Soviet Union," World Politics 46(4)  (1994): 589-615.
  • Lu Zhang.  "The Paradox of Labor Force Dualism and State-Labor-Capital Relations in the Chinese
  • Automobile Industry" in Sarosh Kuruvilla, Ching Kwan Lee, and Mary E. Gallagher, eds., From Iron Rice Bowl to Informalization: Markets, Workers, and the State in a Changing China. (Ithaca: ILR Press/ Cornell University Press, 2011). 

For graduate students:

  • Isabela Mares, "The Economic Consequences of the Welfare State," International Social Security Review 60: 2/3 (2006), pp. 65-81.
  • Isabela Mares, "Economic Insecurity and Social Policy Expansion: Evidence from Interwar Europe," International Organization 58 (Fall 2004), 745-774.
  • Philipp Rehm, "Social Policy by Popular Demand," World Politics 63:2 (April 2011), pp. 271-99.

13. April 18 Labor and the Challenges of Collective Action: Historical Perspective on the Evolution of U.S. Labor Organizations (Jonathan Prude, History); Issues in Contemporary Labor  Organizing (Patrick Scott, AFL-CIO)

Description (Prude): 

Distinctive and evolving character of the American workforce.  Changing nature, possibilities and limits of union organizing.

Readings (Prude)

  • Herbert G. Gutman, “Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America, 1815-1919,” in Gutman,Essays in American Working-Class and Social History (New York, 1976), pp. 3-78. This is a classic essay in the field of American labor history that stresses the way periodic waves of immigration during the 19th century at once profoundly shaped the special nature of America’s working population and deeply complicated the country’s ‘transition’ to industrial modernity.
  • Bruce Laurie, Artisans into Workers: Labor in Nineteenth-Century America (New York, 1989), ch. 6 (“The Prudential Unionism of the American Federation of Labor”), pp. 176-210. Covering the late 19th and early 20th century, Laurie’s discussion provides an interpretive overview of the origins, strengths, and limits of a key institution in history of American unions.
  • Kim Voss and Rick Fantasia, HARD WORK: REMAKING THE AMERICAN LABOR MOVEMENT (University of California Press, 2004), Ch. 2, "An Exceptionally Hostile Terrain." (?)
  • “Harlan County USA” (film)

14. April 25 Universities and Labor: The Emory Experience (Ozzie Harris,  Sr., Vice Provost, member of Committee on Class and Labor)


Rhetoric, action and fatigue: the Emory way - an examination of observations, explanations and responses to concerns about the experience and perceptions of non-faculty labor in a modern highly-selective research university.


Report of the Committee on Class and Labor, Emory University, November 2012