The Political Economy of Culture
Course code
old course code
Course title in Estonian
Kultuuri poliitiline ökonoomia
Course title in English
The Political Economy of Culture
ECTS credits
Assessment form
lecturer of 2021/2022  Autumn semester
Eeva Kesküla (language of instruction:English)
lecturer of 2021/2022  Spring semester
lecturer not assigned
Course aims
The course objective is to analyse work, labour and the economy from an anthropological and political economyperspective. The course will provide tools to examine the significance of work in precapitalist and capitalist world and different cultural contexts through the analysis of ethnographic texts, films, discussions, exercises and group work.
Brief description of the course
Work is a cultural universal that exists in all human societies. Work is a means of producing livelihood, a system of meanings and moralities and principle of structuring societies. This course looks at key themes around anthropology of work, starting with work in preindustrial societies and continues with exploring explores the impacts of industrial revolution and expanding and accelerating capitalism in different locations across the globe. The course will look at how work structures and is structured by societies through the lenses of gender, age, ethnic and class-based divisions of labour, focusing not only on paid employment but work in its widest meaning, including reproductive work at home and voluntary work. While mostly concentrating of various developments in the realm of work in the 20th century, the course aims to also speculate on the future developments of work in the 21st century. Is work, as we know it, running out? If machines can take over all the tedious and repetitive work, why are people then working increasingly long hours? why is there an ever-increasing number of ‘bullshit jobs’? What are the developments in the relations between labour and capital? How has COVID-19 affected the way people work?
Learning outcomes in the course
Upon completing the course the student:
- has attained familiarity with the conceptual tools for the critical analysis work and labour from an anthropological and political economy perspective;
- is able to discuss, compare and contrast qualitative research and ethnographic work orally and in written form;
- based on ethnographic texts and discussions with peers, is able to compare and contrast labour issues and work practices in different cultural contexts and intersectional inequalities of labour.
Eeva Kesküla