Whether positively connoted as an ennobling activity engendering human self-consciousness and liberty (Hegel) or as toil and drudgery, work/labor is central to individual and collective human existence. We need to expend our physical and mental capacities to sustain our own lives as well as the lives of others. Work, therefore, has profound significance for the constitution of the individual self as well as for the organization of our society. Hence, work has been the human activity and site of struggle for freedom and equality from the beginning of human history to today's demand for Social Justice. This course combines social philosophy and case studies of working conditions across the globe for engaging with the following questions. What is the justification for past and existing hierarchies of labor typically expressed in different pay and the lack thereof? What are the practical and ethical consequences of such labor hierarchies? What is the relationship between work and human dignity? What is the responsibility of the individual for working conditions domestically and globally? The course allows students to investigate the structures of the economy and choices we make as individuals has profound repercussions on our fellow human beings, in other words, we will recognize the interconnectedness of our world as a fundamental aspect of the human condition today. Theoretical readings range from Kant, Hegel, Marx and Arendt to current social theorists like Michael Hardt (Affective Labor), Maurizio Lazzarato (Immaterial Labor), Oskar Negt to Teju Cole and others. In addition, we will discuss documentaries and case studies on working conditions in our global economy. All materials and language of instruction are in English.
Grading Basis
LG/SNC Elective Basis
Lecture - Required
Course Attributes
Phil. Thinking or Ethics
GER 1506
Academic Group
Dietrich Sch Arts and Sciences
Academic Organization
Germanic Languages & Lit
Pittsburgh Campus