In this assignment, you will choose a topic relevant to the politics of labour. Below, I have provided a list of potential topics. If you would like to choose a topic not represented in that list, you need to get permission from your seminar leader first. The assignment has two parts.
The essay proposal is due Tuesday, November 7th, in lecture. It is worth 10% of your final grade. You will submit a 500 word proposal that explains your topic and offers a clear thesis statement. You should offer a brief synopsis of the research problem you will be exploring. You should also briefly explain any concepts, theorists, or theoretical frameworks that you will be applying in your essay, whether these come from our course or from other courses and sources. Your proposal should also include references to at least two peer-reviewed sources that you will explore in your research essay. The proposal will not only get us into the habit of consciously developing the goals of a research project before it begins, but will also allow your seminar leader to offer comments that should help guide you when you write your essay.
The research essay is due Tuesday, November 28th, in lecture. It is worth 30% of your final grade. You will submit a 2,000 word, eight-page research essay. For your research essay, you can cite the assigned readings in our course, but in addition, you must use at least three peer-reviewed sources that are not course readings. You are also encouraged to bring in other forms of relevant media, including newspapers or broadcasts, policy centre research papers, etc.
Your research essay should offer a detailed explanation of the major issues relevant to your theme; offer a critical analysis of the sources you have selected, including commentary on whether or not their arguments are convincing; relate your chosen sources and topic to the general themes and concepts of the course; and, explain how they address current social problems and debates. In your critical analysis, you may agree or disagree with the readings, but you must offer evidence for your arguments.
Format For Both Parts of the Assignment:
Assignments must be submitted in hard copy in lecture. Assignments must also be submitted electronically through the course website in the ‘Assignments’ folder. All assignments must be typed in 12-point font, double-spaced with one-inch margins, printed on white paper, and must be stapled when there are multiple pages. The first page of all assignments must have the following information:
• Student name and number
• Assignment title
• Course name and title
• Name of professor
• Tutorial seminar number
• Name of seminar leader
• Citation style
You must use a recognized citation style, including CMS (Chicago), MLA, or APA. For a useful guide to academic writing, see:
The penalties for late submission of assigned coursework (e.g., papers, assignments, weekly reflections) are 5% per day, unless accompanied by medical documentation. See Medical Exemption Policy and the medical health certificate at http://www.brocku.ca/health-services/policies/exemption
List of Potential Topics:
Before I offer the list of potential topics, I have three suggestions. First, in the list of topics below, I offer clusters of questions. Your essay does not need to answer all of the questions in a cluster. Rather, these questions are meant to help you frame your research question and thesis statement. Second, when considering a topic, keep in mind the things we have already read and discussed, including the ways in which workers and unions act politically, Canadian labour history, and the different forms of unionism. Third, when you have chosen a topic, you are encouraged to read ahead to some of the course readings that are relevant to that topic. This will give a good basis from which to pursue other sources of information.
A number of our course readings argue that the Canadian labour movement is in crisis. What are the main features of this crisis? What are the main effects of this crisis? How did this crisis arise? What are the main social forces and who are the main actors responsible for this crisis? Has the Canadian labour movement contributed to this crisis, and if so, how? Is there a general awareness within the Canadian labour movement and beyond that there is a crisis? If so, why? If not, why? What are the major positions in the debates about how to resolve this crisis, both within the labour movement and beyond it? What do you think are the best solutions for resolving this crisis?First, choose two different unions (preferably within the same sector or in similar forms of work) that have contrasting forms of unionism (e.g. business unionism and social unionism) or politics (e.g. strategic voting and supporting a single political party). Second, give a comparative analysis of their different forms of unionism and politics. In particular, how has each of their different forms of unionism influenced the demands they prioritize? How has their different forms of unionism impacted the kinds of tactics and strategies they use in pursuing these demands? How have their different forms of unionism inspired different forms of political activity? Which forms of unionism, strategy, and politics have proven more successful and why? What are the implications of your conclusions, if any, for the labour movement as a whole? [Note: This question is similar to one of the essay questions in LABR/POLI 3Q97. If you are in that class and chose that question, you must use two different unions for this question. You can’t use the same unions in both essays.]How has the Canadian labour movement related to Canadian political parties? With this topic, you can choose to have a broader focus, or you can focus on a specific era of Canadian history, a specific part of the Canadian labour movement, or a specific Canadian political party. What are the specific kinds of relationships that exist between the labour movement and political parties? In what ways have these relationships benefitted workers, unions, and the labour movement? In what ways have these relationships been detrimental to the labour movement, to the political party or parties, or both? What are some of the tensions that arise from the relationships between the labour movement and political parties? What are the more successful, and the less successful, ways in which the labour movement can relate to political parties? How do you think the labour movement should relate to political parties? What are the relationships between the labour movement and voting strategies? Should the labour movement commit to a single party, either one of the existing ones or by creating a new one, or should the labour movement engage in strategic voting? What are the strengths and weaknesses of either of these voting strategies? If you think the labour movement should attempt to form a new party, is this plausible, what are the obstacles, and what features would the party need to accomplish the goals of the labour movement?How has the Canadian labour movement engaged in extra-parliamentary politics? With this topic, you can choose to have a broader focus, or you can focus on a specific era of Canadian history, a specific part of the Canadian labour movement, a specific Canadian social movement or community organization, or a specific issue or campaign that has featured important relationships between the labour movement and civil society organizations. [Note: You can read ahead to some of our future course readings to get some idea of the different political issues and civil society organizations to which the Canadian labour movement has related]. What are the specific kinds of relationships that exist between the labour movement and civil society groups? In what ways have these relationships benefitted workers, unions, and the labour movement? In what ways have these relationships been detrimental to the labour movement, to the civil society organizations, or both? What are some of the tensions that arise from the relationships between the labour movement and civil society organizations? What are the more successful, and the less successful, ways in which the labour movement can relate to civil society organizations? How do you think the labour movement should relate to civil society organizations?
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