Assignments

Book Analysis, due March 5, 2019
worth 100 points

$_35

Choose one of these books:

Carr, Nicholas. 2014. The Glass Cage: Automation and Us. W.W. Norton.

Ford, Martin. 2015. The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. Basic Books.

Graeber, David. 2018. Bullshit Jobs: A Theory. Simon & Schuster.

Kalleberg, Arne L. 2013. Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: The Rise of Polarized and Precarious Employment Systems in the United States 1970s to 2000s. Russell Sage Foundation.

Murray, Charles. 2016. In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State. AEI Press.

Snyder, Benjamin H. 2016. The Disrupted Workplace: Time and the Moral Order of Flexible Capitalism. Oxford University Press.

I might be willing to let you use another book, with my approval, if it is spot on relevant, and you promise you have not read it already.

Once you’ve read your book, you will write a really careful, 1250 word analysis (about five pages, double-spaced) in which you discuss the major themes, strengths, and weaknesses of the book with explicit reference to themes we are discussing in class. Let me be very clear here: you will not pass this assignment if much of the content is not analytical and, moreover, directly related to what we’ve been reading and talking about for this Honors seminar. A simple report of what the author said in the book is not sufficient. Grading-wise, 80 of the 100 points in this assignment will go to content, and the other 20 points will go to mechanics. The content portion of your grade covers your ideas and analysis. Is the paper well reasoned? Is the exposition clear? Are any references authoritative? The mechanics portion of your grade covers grammar, spelling, punctuation, and correct citation of references. Weird fonts and margins annoy your grader. Cite sources in the style of the American Sociological Association.

 

Paper about Generational Views of Work and the Job Market, due April 11, 2019
worth 100 points

Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Peasant_woman_binding_sheaves_(after_Millet)_-_Google_Art_Project

The project in brief:

Interview four people to get their answers to the questions below. The four people must be one female baby boomer, one male baby boomer, one female generation xer, and one male generation xer. Let’s say baby boomers are those born 1945-1964 and xers are those born 1965-1984.

You do not have to record and transcribe the interviews, but you must take sufficiently careful notes that you can report their answers fully. If you want to record the interviews, you must get the permission of each person to be recorded.

After you have completed the interviews, write up the responses in some coherent, readable way in a paper of 1250 words. Introduce the four interviewees in a summary, demographic way so the reader can keep them straight (Bill, a 68 year old man retired from penguin training…)

You must include at least one exact quote from each of your four interviewees.

The last page or two should be your summing up of the interesting patterns, especially in light of ideas we’ve been discussing in class, and your informed musings about how interviewees’ answers might reflect, or fail to reflect, relevant broad generational patterns.

Further thoughts:

Include the word count at the bottom of your paper. Last time I asked for five pages, and everyone gave me four.

Grading-wise, 80 of the 100 points in this assignment will go to content, and the other 20 points will go to mechanics. The content portion of your grade covers your ideas and analysis. Are the organization and analysis clear? Are any references authoritative? The mechanics portion of your grade covers grammar, spelling, punctuation, and correct citation of references. Weird fonts and margins annoy your grader. Cite sources in the style of the American Sociological Association.

The questions to ask your interviewees:

  • In class we’re discussing the possibility that 70 or 80 percent of American jobs could go away due to automation over the next few decades. What do you think of that idea?
  • How much of your own identity is/was/will be a function of your job?
  • What do employers and employees owe each other?
  • Why do you think so many recent college graduates are underemployed?
  • What are your views about the concept of retirement?
  • Thinking in terms of baby boomers, generation xers, and millennials, how is your own generation most morally inferior?

 

Reflections on Universal Basic Income, due May 14, 2019, 11:00 a.m.
worth 100 points

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What would you personally do if there were UBI? In this paper, think through the implications of each of three different scenarios.

Scenario One: It’s the world we live in now. Starting next month, all U.S. citizens age 18 and up will receive $1000 from the government each month. Old people will keep their Social Security, but everyone under 40 is told they’ll never get a penny from that program. All other social welfare programs are to be scrapped except for Medicare and Medicaid. The other countries of the world are unchanged.

Scenario Two: The world is substantially the same as it is now, except that a few years ago, the federal government began distributing to every adult citizen $4000 per month. All welfare programs are gone, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The other countries of the world are unchanged.

Scenario Three: You’re in an alternate universe. The entire planet is enjoying proto post-scarcity economics, and your allowance of money or credits or whatever is equivalent to the sort of purchasing power you’d have back here in our world on $5 million a year. But conspicuous consumption is socially discouraged. So, it’s the Star Trek economy, more or less.

Discuss each of these scenarios in some detail. What would change for you? What would stay the same? How has your thinking on the subject has been informed by this class? Make explicit reference to at least five of the readings assigned this semester. Reflect upon the meaning of work and how it would change under each scenario. Type up a paper of at least 1250 words, double spaced, and emailed to me at bobprice@txstate.edu no later than 11:00 a.m. on the due date. Late papers will lose 20 points at 11:01 by the clock on my computer, and 20 additional points for each additional calendar day late.

Grading-wise, 80 of the 100 points in this assignment will go to content, and the other 20 points will go to mechanics. The content portion of your grade covers your ideas and analysis. Are the organization and analysis clear? Are any references authoritative? The mechanics portion of your grade covers grammar, spelling, punctuation, and correct citation of references. Weird fonts and margins annoy your grader. Cite sources in the style of the American Sociological Association.