WORK, CONSUMPTION, AND GLOBALIZATION:
RELIGIOUS AND ETHICAL PERSPECTIVES
Professor M. Christian Green
Harvard Divinity School
Rockefeller Hall, Room 2
COURSE DESCRIPTION AND OBJECTIVES
The spectre of consumerism has trumped communism in late capitalism, but the iron cage of the modern workplace keeps us in its grasp. This course will put religious understandings of work and wealth in dialogue with social theory to examine the power of work and the current context of consumption and globalization on contemporary life. The first part will survey influential philosophical, theological, and political writings on the work and wealth in the Christian West—including Aristotle, Clement, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Marx, Weber, and Catholic social thought. The second part will draw on contemporary writings in religion, ethics, and the social sciences on the disparate effects of the new global economy by race, class, and gender; migration and immigration; diminution of worker rights and justice; intergenerational justice between young and old workers; and practical spiritual, theological, and political solutions to problems of anomie, insecurity, and injustice in contemporary economic life.
SCHEDULE OF CLASSES AND READINGS
Week 1—INTRODUCTION (January 31)
- VIDEO: “Surviving the Bottom Line”
Week 2—GRECO-ROMAN PERSPECTIVES (February 7)
- 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 14)
- Clement of Alexandria, The Rich Man’s Salvation, pp. 265-367.
- John Chrysostom, On Wealth and Poverty, pp. 1-140.
Week 4—MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM TO PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC (February 21)
- David S. Landes, Revolution in Time, Ch. 3-4, pp. 48-86.
- Saint Benedict, The Rule of Saint Benedict, selections TBA
- M. Cathleen Kaveny, Billable Hours and Ordinary Time
- 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”
Week 5— MARX AND WEBER (February 28)
- Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, pp. 473-500.
Week 6— CATHOLIC SOCIAL THOUGHT ON WORK & ECONOMY (March 7)
- Charles Curran, Catholic Social Teaching 1891-Present, Ch. 6 (“The Economic Order”)
- 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)
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All (1986)
Week 7— CONTEMPORARY CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT VIEWS (March 14)
- Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Ch. 6 (“Human Work”) and 7 (“Economic Life”)
- 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)
Week 8— GENDER, FAMILY, AND GLOBALIZATION (March 21)
- Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild. Global Woman
NO CLASS MARCH 28—SPRING BREAK
Week 9— CLASS: THE GROWING DIVIDE (April 4)
- David Shipler, The Working Poor
- Mark Robert Rank, One Nation, Underprivileged , Pts. I and II
Week 10—JEWISH AND ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVES (April 11, 12:00-2:00))
- Howard M. Sachar, A History of the Jews in America, p. 250-61.
- The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan, Judah Goldin, trans., ch. 11.
- “The Theoretical Basis of Women’s Equality in Judaism,” and “Jewish Women Coming of Age,” in On Women and Judaism, pp. 39-72.
- Muhammad Akram Khan, “Islamic Economics: An Overview,” in Introduction to Islamic Economics, pp. 1-27.
Week 11—RELIGION AND THE IMMIGRATION DEBATE (April 18)
- “The Hispanic Presence: Challenge and Commitment,” Pastoral Letter of the United States Bishops, 1984
- “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope,” A Pastoral Letter Concerning Migration from the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States, 2003
- Janice Fine, Worker Centers: Organizing Communities at the Edge of the Dream, Ch. 8 ( “Immigrant Rights and Social Justice”)
- Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, Religion and Social Justice for Immigrant, readings TBA
Week 12—INTERGENERATIONAL WORKERS AND JUSTICE (April 25)
- Tamara Draut. Strapped: Why Today’s 20- and 30-Somethings Cannot Get Ahead
- Anya Kamenetz. Generation Debt: Why Now Is a Terrible Time to Be Young
- Margaret Morgenroth Gullette. Aged by Culture, Ch. 3 (“The X-ers v. the Boomers: A Contrived War”)
Week 13—RELIGION, CONSUMPTION, AND GLOBALIZATION (May 2)
- Tom Beaudoin, Consuming Faith, ch. 1 “Living in a Branded Culture”
- Michael L. Budde and Robert W. Brimlow, Christianity Incorporated, ch. 3, “The Political Economy of Formation”
- Vincent J. Miller, Consuming Religion, Ch. 7 “Stewarding Religious Traditions in Consumer Culture”
TEXTS AND RESOURCES
Books Available at the Bookstore for Purchase (“REQUIRED”)
Ehrenreich, Barbara, and Arlie Hochschild, eds. Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy, 2nd reprt. ed. (Owl, 2003)
Shipler, David. The Working Poor: Invisible in America, reprt ed. (Vintage, 2005)
Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Dover Publications, 2003)
Books Available at the Bookstore for Purchase (“RECOMMENDED”)
Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette, Religion and Social Justice for Immigrants (Rutgers University Press, forthcoming 2/27/07)
Knitter, Paul, and Chandra Mufazar, eds., Subverting Greed: Religious Perspectives on the Global Economy (Orbis, 2002)
Rank, Mark Robert. One Nation Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Hurts Us All (Oxford University Press, 2004)
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Tenth Anniversary of Economic Justice for All (Hunter Publishing, 1997)