WORK, CONSUMPTION, GLOBALIZATION
Professor M. Christian Green
Harvard Divinity School
Room 213, Divinity Hall
COURSE DESCRIPTION AND OBJECTIVES
The specters that haunt us today may be more consumerist than communist, but the iron cage of modernity keeps us in its grasp. With everyone working ever-longer hours to buy more stuff—much of which is increasingly produced abroad in deplorable labor and environmental conditions—the theories of Marx and Weber seem to have renewed currency. This course will put religious understandings of work and material wealth in dialogue with social theory to examine the power of work, consumption, and globalization on contemporary life. This course will blend themes from business and economic ethics with themes from family studies and contemporary sociocultural theory, environmental movements toward simplicity and sustainability, and particular attention to the disparate affects of globalization by race, class and gender. We will begin the course by retrieving classical philosophical and theological understandings of wealth, work, and the effects of these on our social relationships. We will then move to the critical theories of Weber and Marx, and some similar themes in Catholic social thought, Habermas’ socioeconomic writings, and contemporary statements by Christian denominations on work, vocation, the economy and global social justice. Finally, after surveying a growing body of contemporary analysis of consumerism, gender, race, and class and the New Economy, we will look for possible resources and solutions to contemporary ethical issues in this area in the communicative and capabilities theories of Habermas, Amartya Sen, and Martha Nussbaum, concluding with an outward look at manifestations of course themes across a sampling of the world’s religions.
SCHEDULE OF CLASSES AND READINGS
Week 1—INTRODUCTION (February 3)
- VIDEO: “Surviving the Bottom Line”
- Jean Bethke Elshtain, “Forgetting that We Are Fallen: The Prideful Self,” in Who Are We?, pp. 39-77.
Week 2—GRECO-ROMAN PERSPECTIVES (February 10)
- Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, W.D. Ross trans., Bk. 4, Ch. 1-2 (virtues concerned with money); Bk. V, Ch. 6-7 (justice); Bk. V, Ch. 10 (equity)
- Aristotle, Politics, Bk I, ch. 3-4, 8-11, (household management and trade)
- Cicero, “On Duties, Book II, Expediency,” II, v, 18-II, vii, 25; II, viii, 29-II, xiii, 44; II, xv, 52-II, xxii, 74 (pp. 128-33, 135-43, 147-64, 169-71 in Penguin edition)
Week 3—BIBLICAL AND EARLY CHURCH PERSPECTIVES (February 17)
- Clement of Alexandria, The Rich Man’s Salvation, pp. 265-367.
- John Chrysostom, On Wealth and Poverty, pp. 1-140.
Week 4—MEDIEVALS, MONASTICS, TIME, AND SIN: THE LEGACY OF THE MIDDLE AGES(February 24)
- David S. Landes, Revolution in Time, Ch. 3-4, pp. 48-86.
- M. Cathleen Kaveny, Billable Hours and Ordinary Time, pp. 173-220.
Week 5—THE PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC (March 3)
- Martin Luther (See Ch. 3 in Weber)
- John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Bk. III, ch. 6-10, 15, 18
- John Wesley, “Sermon on the Use of Money”
- Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
Week 6— MARXIST CRITIQUES AND CATHOLIC SOCIAL THOUGHT (March 10)
- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, pp. 473-500.
- Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum (On the Condition of the Working Classes) (1891)
- Pope John Paul II, Laborem Exercens (On Human Work) (1981)
- Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus (On the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum) (1991)
Week 7—HABERMAS ON MARX, WEBER, AND THE RISE OF TECHNICAL RATIONALITY (March 17)
- Jürgen Habermas, Communication and the Evolution of Society, pp. 130-77.
- Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. I, Pt. II, pp. 143-271.
Week 8— CONTEMPORARY CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT VIEWS (March 24)
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All: Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy (1986)
- Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. “God’s Work in Our Hands: Employment, Community, and Christian Vocation”
- United Methodist Church, “Economic Justice for a New Millennium” (2000)
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, “Sufficient Sustainable Livelihood for All” (1999)
SPRING RECESS (March 28-April 3)
Week 9— OVERWORKED AND OVERSPENT: WORK AND CONSUMPTION IN THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMY (April 7)
- Juliet Schor, The Overworked American, Ch. 1-2.
- Arlie Russell Hochschild, The Time Bind, Ch. 4, 8, and 15.
- Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi, The Two-Income Family, Ch. 2-3.
Week 10— WOMEN, SOCIAL CLASS AND THE COMMODIFICATION OF CARE IN THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMY (April 14)
- Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild, “Introduction,” in Global Woman, pp. 1-14.
- Arlie Russell Hochschild, “Love and Gold,” Global Woman, pp. 15-30.
- Barbara Ehrenreich, “Maid to Order,” in Global Woman, pp. 85-103.
- Lisa Belkin, “The Opt-Out Revolution”
- Nancy Folbre, The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values, Ch. 1-2.
- Bonnie Miller-McLemore, Also a Mother, Introduction and Ch. 1
Week 11— RACE AND MASCULINITY IN THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMY (April 21)
- William Julius Wilson, When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor, Ch. 3 and 5.
- Susan Faludi, Stiffed: The Betrayal of American Manhood, Ch. 1-2
- Arlie Russell Hochschild, The Time Bind, Ch. 9.
- Kathleen Gerson, “ A Few Good Men.” The American Prospect, 5:16 (December 1, 1994)
Week 12—MODERNIZATION, GLOBALIZATION, DEVELOPMENT, AND THE CAPABILITIES APPROACH (April 28)
- Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. II, Pt. 8, pp. 301-___.
- Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, Chs. 1, 8, and 12 (pp. 1-34, 189-203, 282-98)
- Martha C. Nussbaum, “Human Capabilities, Female Human Beings,” pp. 61-104.
- Martha C. Nussbaum, “’Whether from Reason or Prejudice’: Taking Money for Bodily Services,” pp. 276-98.
Week 13–CONCLUSION: TOWARD A CONTEMPORARY THEOLOGY OF WORK, CONSUMPTION AND GLOBALIZATION (May 5)
- Paul Knitter and Chandra Muzafar, eds., Subverting Greed: Religious Perspectives on the Global Economy.
TEXTS AND RESOURCES
Books Available for Purchase
Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2001).
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All: Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 1986).
Paul Knitter and Chandra Muzafar, eds., Subverting Greed: Religious Perspectives on the Global Economy (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002).
Books and Articles on Reserve
As you may surmise from the brief list above, the vast majority of texts for this class will be books and articles on reserve. Given the breadth and amount of these texts, student photocopying is far more economical here than a coursepack. Where texts are available online, you will see that I have noted this on the syllabus in the weeks where the readings occur. I will post a complete list of the texts that we are using for the class with complete bibliographic information on translations, editions, and the like for those who may wish to procure these materials on their own.
While the amounts of material from many of the sources did not, in my view, justify my having the bookstore order them for purchase, it is possible that some of you may wish to own these volumes yourselves. To that end, we will discuss during the opening weeks of the course, the possibility of the bookstore ordering some of the books for those who would like the convenience