Sociology | Advanced Topics: Social Organization, VT:Consumers, Corporations, and Capitalism
S410 | 15605 | Bartley

S410: Consumers, Corporations, and Capitalism

Can consumer decisions make a difference in terms of promoting
global justice or protecting the environment?  What do Fair Trade
labels on coffee really mean?  Is corporate social responsibility an
oxymoron or a meaningful trend?  Is Wal-Mart a good or bad thing for
consumers, workers, and communities in the U.S. and abroad?  How do
the global commodity chains that generate our clothes, food,
cellphones, and iPods really work?  Who are the people that make
these products, and what are their social worlds like?  Why are
companies adopting voluntary labor and environmental standards, and
what difference does it make?  Are we living in a consumerist
culture, and if so, at what price?

These are just a few of the questions that will be addressed in this
seminar.  We will focus on developing a sociological perspective on
economic life (broadly defined), with a particular focus on recent
changes in the governance of markets and the linkages between local
decisions and global trends.  Students will read materials from both
scholarly and popular sources, contribute actively to discussions
during the seminar, and conduct case study research that extends the
course material.