A Global History of Unemployment
History (HIST) 29518 - Spring 2018 - University of Chicago
Instructor: Aaron Benanav
Class Time: Tu/Th 12:30pm-1:50pm
Classroom: Classics XXX
What is unemployment? Is it a simple economic category or complex historical construction? In this course, we examine the problem of unemployment as it was discovered—or as some would say, invented—in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Europe and the United States. In addition, we look at problematic but generative attempts to extend the category of unemployment to the developing countries after World War II. We read a mixture of theoretical texts, policy documents, case studies and novels that seek to describe, explain, categorize and/or control the unemployed. We also look at various projects aimed at ending the scourge of unemployment, whether via public-works programs, the export of “unemployables” to colonies, insurance-schemes, full employment policies, guaranteed income proposals, and socialist revolution. Time and again, crises of unemployment have have played key roles in the transformation of the institutions that measure and govern the economy. Such crises have also provided occasions for posing questions about the ultimate ends of economic development.
Available at the Seminary Coop
Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Random House)
Standing, The Precariat (Bloomsbury)
All other texts will be made available online
Optional Background Literature
Placed on Reserve at the Regenstein
Baskerville and Sager, Unwilling Idlers (on Victorian Canada, 1988)
Baxandall, Constructing Unemployment (on the First and Second Worlds, 2004)
Bix, Inventing Ourselves out of Jobs? (on US automation debates, 2000)
Burnett, Idle Hands (on the experience of the unemployed in the UK, 1994)
Casson, Economics of Unemployment (on the history of economics, 1984)
Castel, From Manual Workers to Wage Laborers (on France, 1995)
Davis, Planet of Slums (on slum-dwellers in the Third World, 2006)
Garraty, Unemployment in History (a general history, 1978)
Godfrey, Global Unemployment (on the history of economics, 1986)
Keyssar, Out of Work (on turn-of-the-century Massachusetts, 1986)
Perry, Bread and Work (on inter-war UK, 2000)
Portes, Castells, and Benton, The Informal Economy (on informality, 1989)
Salais, L’Invention du Chômage (on France, 1986)
Sethuraman, The Urban Informal Sector in Developing Countries (1981)
Stedman Jones, Outcast London (on London, 1971)
Walters, Unemployment and Government (on the UK, 2000)
Breakdown of Grades
Attendance and Classroom Participation, 20 percent
One In-Class Presentation, 10 percent
Weekly Response Papers (due every Thursday), 20 percent
Paper Proposal (due Tuesday of 8th Week), 10 percent
Research Paper (due Tuesday of Finals Week), 40 percent
Class time will be spent discussing and contextualizing primary-source documents from the history of unemployment. The course will work best if it is a collective effort in which we all participate. For that reason, your attendance is required. One absence per quarter will be excused, as long as you notify me of your absence by email before the start of class (exceptions will be made for emergencies). Unexcused absences will result in the loss of 3.33 points off of your final grade.
Of course, not only attendance but also participation in discussion is essential for a successful seminar. Please take notes by hand rather than on a computer, as screens put distance between classroom participants. Students are expected to bring their own, printed-out, marked-up copies of the readings to class. Read all of the required reading and to be prepared to discuss it in detail. Over the course of the quarter, you will be also expected to complete a series of writing assignments and do one presentation.
Short In-Class Presentations. On the first day of class, I will provide a sign-up sheet for in-class presentations. You will each do one presentation this quarter. For these presentations, you will briefly outline what you see as the key concepts for the day’s readings, highlight any controversies or debates, relate themes from the day’s readings to concepts in the course as a whole, and draw attention to what you find striking, surprising, or provocative. These short presentations will take at the minimum 5 minutes and at the maximum 10 minutes. I would prefer that you present informally on the texts, if you can. In other words, try not to read your presentation from a sheet of paper, but feel free bring notes or an outline.
Weekly response papers. These response papers are due in class every Thursday at the beginning of class. They should be 300-500 words, single-spaced, with parenthetical citations as needed. These are meant to be “exploratory” writings. Use writing as a way to figure out what you think about one or more readings for the week. Summarize their contents and explain their significance. Analyze authors’ standpoints and place their interventions in historical context. These short assignments will be graded on a full/half/no-credit basis. You will be given a check for any writing that shows you are making a real effort. For all assignments, include your name, my name, and the course number at the top. Give your paper a title.
Paper Proposal. Whether you choose to dig deeper into a subject we cover as a class or identify a research topic of your own, your research paper is a chance for you to develop your own scholarly interests. Your paper must be historically minded and contain a significant research component. It can relate to any issue of unemployment, underemployment, and informality, or any attempt to end or reduce these issues via full-employment policies, basic-income schemes, socialist revolution, etc. On Tuesday of 8th week, you will turn in a proposal of at least 500 words, as well as an annotated bibliography of 5-8 sources. You should meet with me in office hours in advance of this date to discuss your proposed topic.
Research Paper. This paper should be 3000-4000 words, double-spaced, and in 12pt, Times New Roman font with one-inch margins. It should have a title and page numbers. It should use Chicago-style footnotes for citations. In your essay, be sure to explain what theoretical problem or question you will address. Then, put forward an argument based on your reconstruction, contextualization, and evaluation of texts we read in class as well as materials that you found outside of class. Essays should be well organized and well written. Each paragraph must have a clear topic sentence that advances the argument by one step. You should back up the points you make using both reasoning and evidence. At the end of your essay, be sure to explain the significance of the history you have reconstructed as well as of your evaluations (why does any of this matter?). Also, please include a works cited section with proper bibliographic information.
PART I: TOWARDS FULL-EMPLOYMENT
Selections from The Poor Law Commissioners’ Report of 1834
Booth, Life and Labor of the People of England (1889), Part 1, Ch. 1-2, 5-6
Booth, Life and Labor of the People of England (1889), Part 2, Ch. 1; Part 3, Ch. 1 & 4
Hobson, The Problem of the Unemployed (1896), Ch. 1-6, 8
Beveridge, Unemployment: A Problem of Industry (1910), Ch. 1-5
Beveridge, Unemployment: A Problem of Industry (1910), Ch. 6-10
Selections from The National Insurance Act (UK)
Lazarsfeld et. al., The Marienthal Study (1933), Ch. 1-8
William Green, “Labor Versus the Machine” (1930)
IWW, Unemployment and the Machine (1934)
Keynes, “Economic Problems of our Grandchildren” (1930)
Keynes, “The General Theory of Employment” (1937)
Selections from Social Insurance and Allied Services (1942)
Beveridge, Full Employment in a Free Society (1944), Parts 1-3
Beveridge, Full Employment in a Free Society (1944), Parts 4-5 & 7
PART II: THE BREAKDOWN OF
THE FULL-EMPLOYMENT NORM
ILO, The Declaration of Philadelphia (1944)
Robinson, “Disguised Unemployment” (1936)
Rosenstein-Rodan, “Economically Backward Areas” (1944)
Lewis, “Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labor” (1954)
Ad-Hoc Committee, “The Triple Revolution” (1964)
Boggs and Boggs, The American Revolution (1963), Ch. 1-4, 7-8
Boggs and Boggs, “The City is a Black Man’s Land” (1966)
Cleaver, “On Lumpen Ideology” (1972)
Franklin, “Employment and Unemployment” (1969)
Morse, Director’s Report: The World Employment Programme (1969)
Hart, “Informal Income Opportunities and Urban Employment in Ghana” (1971)
Selections from ILO, Employment, Incomes and Equality in Kenya (1972)
Breman, “A Dualistic Labor System?” Parts 1-3 (1976)
Seutherman, “The Urban Informal Sector” (1976)
Singh, “Institutional requirements for full employment” (1995)
Friedman and Friedman, “Cradle to Grave” (1979)
Lucas, “Unemployment Policy” (1978)
Standing, “On the Concept of Voluntary Unemployment” (1981)
Tokman, “The Employment Crisis in Latin America” (1984)
Cordova, “From Full Time Employment to Atypical Employment” (1986)
Jamal and Weeks, “The Vanishing Rural-Urban Gap in Africa” (1988)
Tchernina, “Unemployment and Poverty in Russia” (1994)
Emmerij, “The Employment Problem and the International Economy” (1994)
Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers (2012)
Breman, “Life and Death in Annawadi” (2012)
Standing, The Precariat (2011), Ch. 1-4
Standing, The Precariat (2011), Ch. 5-7
Breman, “A Bogus Concept” (2013)
Standing, “Why the Precariat is not a Bogus Concept” (2014)
Appendix: Additional Course Policies
Disabilities: Please contact me and Student Disability Services (https://disabilities.uchicago.edu/request-review) by the end of the second week if you have a documented disability so we can make reasonable accommodations. All discussions will remain confidential.
Citations: For essay assignments, cite by author, title and page number any ideas that are (a) not common knowledge and (b) not your own idea. Anything covered in lecture counts as common knowledge. Put quotations in quotation marks and, again, identify their source. When possible, paraphrase from sources (and cite them) rather than quoting them directly. For citation style, I prefer the Chicago Manual of Style, which uses footnotes for citations. If you are unfamiliar with this citation style, please see: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/03/
Academic Dishonesty: Acts of plagiarism, cheating, or copying work from other students, as well as other sorts of academic dishonesty, are serious violations of university policy. Do not copy ideas, quotations, portions of papers or entire papers from friends, websites, books, articles, or term-paper mills. You will get caught, either in this course, or in a later one. The consequences of cheating for your education and your moral character will last a lifetime.
Discrimination, Intimidation & Harassment: It is the right of all students to have equal access to course content in an environment free of prejudice, discrimination, and harassment. Learn your fellow students names. Treat them with respect regardless of differences of perspective.
Questions: If you have any questions, do not hesitate to visit me in office hours. I will also answer emails pertaining to the course, but I will do so only during office hours. In other words, I prefer that if you have a substantial question, you ask me in person. If you cannot come to my office hours because of a scheduling conflict, or for any other reason, we can always arrange to meet at another time. I am also regularly in my office, so feel free to come by and say hello.
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Opinions such as those found in the Smith Family Youth Unemployment Report (2003) which hypothesize that juvenile crime is directly connected to the high rates of youth unemployment in Australia cannot be neither accepted nor critiqued until there is a clear understanding of what the terms "Youth Unemployment" and "Juvenile Crime" mean in the context of this essay. In this essay youth unemployment is generally taken to include the entire 15 - 24 age cohort - not just 15 - 19 year old teenagers - who are no longer at school or university and who are without a job. I have chosen to include 20 - 24 year olds under the banner of "Youth", as it gives a fairer picture of the performance of all young people in the labor market and takes into account the pattern of employment both during and after leaving school or university. The word juvenile is used to describe the actions of a person who is "not fully grown or developed" (web), and is marked by immaturity and childishness.
Crime is generally taken to include all acts which are deemed against the law of the state, and are therefore illegal. The term "Juvenile Crime" is usually taken to encompass juvenile delinquency. Explaining crime and delinquency is a complex task. A multitude of factors exist that contribute to the understanding of what leads someone to engage in delinquent behavior. Just as the casual factors of juvenile delinquency and crime are diverse and numerous, so are their definitions. Hartley (1985) and other sociologists state, "Sociologists define deviance as any behavior that members of a social group define as violating their norms.
This concept applies both to criminal acts of deviance and non-criminal acts that members of a group view as unethical, immoral, peculiar, sick, or otherwise outside the bounds of respectability. " In order to look discuss whether or not youth unemployment causes or has any correlation to the high crime rate in Australia, it is important to have a clear understanding of the patterns of youth unemployment. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in September 1995 10. 9 % of the total 15 - 24 age population was unemployed (or 15. 1 % of the 15 - 24 year old labour force). Unemployment as a proportion of the population among 20 - 24 year olds was 9. 7 % (or 11. 6 % of the 20 - 24 year old labour force) and among teenagers was 12. 2 % (or 20. 7 % of the teenage labour force). For considerable numbers of young people it is not getting any easier to find work as they move into their twenties or complete education. According to a study undertaken in 1995 by Wooden (1999) young people who just worked part-time represented 10 % of the total 20 - 24 age group compared to 5. 7 % of teenagers. Altogether 215, 000 young people were working part-time.
Two-thirds of those working part-time wanted to work longer hours but couldn^ 1 t find the work. So the total number unemployed or just working part-time equals 507, 000 young people or 18. 8 % of the total 15 - 24 population or 26. 2 % of the 15 - 24 age labour force. It is this group as a whole that is at risk of being relegated to the margins of the labour force. A further 163, 000 young people had already dropped out of the labour force, a significant number of them discouraged by their attempt to find work. It is also worth looking at where high rates of youth unemployment are concentrated. It is highest in regional centres and is disproportionately located in the western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne and outlying states such as South Australia.
For example, in July 1997 52 % of the young unemployed in New South Wales were located in just four regions of outer Western Sydney, the Hunter Valley, the Illawarra and the north coast areas around the Richmond and Tweed rivers (Wooden: 1999). In South Australia youth unemployment in Adelaide^ 1 s northern an southern suburbs accounted for 56 % of the state's total youth unemployment while in Tasmania nearly half of all the unemployed were concentrated in Hobart. According to World Bank's "The Global Crisis of Youth Unemployment", male and females aged between 15 and 24 years account for 41 per cent of the world's unemployed, an estimated 74 million people. Compared to other nations, Australia's youth unemployment rates are high.
By 1993 Australia had the fifth highest youth unemployment rate among thirteen OECD countries, (ABS) and ten years later Australia still fares poorly. As the OECD (Employment Outlook 2003, p. 26) stated, 'teenage unemployment and early school leaving rates in Australia exceed the area-wide average. Moreover, the employment disadvantage of poorly qualified school leavers, compared to their better educated counterparts, is somewhat above the OECD average'. According to ABS trend statistics, in September of 2003 21. 6 per cent of 15 - 19 year olds in Australia were unemployed. Female teenagers (23. 3 per cent) had a higher unemployment rate than their male counterparts (20. 6 per cent). This is in stark contrast to the 5. 9 per cent of unemployed adults.
Thus in September teenagers were over two and a half times more likely to be unemployed than adults. The number of unemployed teenagers may be even higher, if the 11. 5 per cent of 15 - 19 year olds who are not in the labour force are taken into consideration. Alarmingly, 15. 3 per cent of all Australian teenagers are neither employed full-time, nor attending an educational institution (ABS Labour Force Australia Study; 2003). Although the adult unemployment rate has almost halved since 1993, the percentage of teenagers in these 'marginal activities' (not in full-time employment or study) has persisted over the last ten years (Strathdee and Hughes, 2002: 34), and some groups of the population have even higher proportions of teenagers in 'marginal activities'.
While 15. 3 per cent of all teenagers are not in full-time employment or in full-time education, (ABS Labour Force Australia Study; 2003) 45 per cent of Indigenous teenagers are in the same situation. Teenagers living in certain states are also less likely to be working or studying full-time - in the Northern Territory this is the case for 32. 2 per cent of teenagers, 18. 4 per cent in Western Australia, 18. 1 in Queensland and 17. 8 per cent in South Australia (Dusseldorp Skills Forum, 2003: 4). Australian and international studies have shown interplay between youth unemployment and Crime (Weatherburn, 2001). Two links between unemployment and crime are popularly supposed. One is the belief that boredom and other situational factors of unemployment increase opportunity for, and thus likelihood of, criminal activity. Another common view holds that if needs and wants cannot be sufficiently and legitimately met by employment, then individuals will seek illegitimate ways to meet these.
Thus wages from employment are used to provide food, clothing, shelter and other goods and services, but unemployment and a consequent lack of wages by which to meet these needs may lead to the attractiveness of criminal activity. These common views are essentially in concurrence with much of the scholarly work (Weatherburn, 2001). It would be simplistic and overly reductive to argue that unemployment causes crime in a direct straightforward, without-exception fashion. Unemployment may be one influence on an individual's likelihood of undertaking criminal activity. And, as with other aspects of disadvantage, youth unemployment may combine with other disadvantaging factors (such as socioeconomic disadvantage, region, duration of unemployment, prior criminal behavior, early school leaving, weak links to the labour market and Indigenousness) to result in criminal activity (Weatherburn, 2001). According to the ABS, 'Measuring Wellbeing: Frameworks for Australian Social Statistics', long-term unemployment is an antecedent of crime.
Scholars Chapman, Weatherburn, Kapuscinski, Chilvers and Roussel have highlighted in their report 'Unemployment Duration, Schooling and Property Crime' (2002), at least two influences regarding intersections between long-term unemployment and crime. Firstly, unemployment duration is inversely linked to labour market attractiveness. As Chapman et al, drawing on Rummery 1989, rationalize, 'the longer the period of joblessness... the greater the atrophy in human capital' (2002: 3). Therefore, given the link between human capital and success in the labour market, the longer a person is unemployed the less likely they are to find employment. As the likelihood of employment decreases the more the likelihood of 'illegitimate earning activity' increases (Chapman et al 2002: 3).
Secondly, long-term unemployment may affect an individual's attitude regarding future employment opportunities. The 'Factors Influencing Criminal Offending' report issued by the Crime Prevention Division of NSW found that a poor expectation of future employment prospects combined with a period of unemployment is more likely to result in criminal activity than the combination of unemployment with more positive expectation of future employment. As Chapman et al. (2002: 4) explain, 'individuals who do not expect to remain unemployed for long are much less likely to engage in crime'. For many unemployed youth, the above characteristics may be coupled with the first significant time in their life course where they are not subject to supervision and authority. They also may not have an acceptable place to be, in the way that school and the tertiary sector provide 'place' and 'space'. Unemployed youth therefore negotiate a confluence of several challenging factors; they cannot find employment and have little prospect and expectation of doing so.
They are without a significant degree of formal supervision and authority and without 'place' and occupation. Unemployed youth often have little, or no, experience in the labour market. While these challenges confront unemployed people of all ages, they are particularly adverse, and may be amplified, for youth who face them with only limited experience and maturity. When considering crime and unemployment 'immaturity' must be taken into account.
Youth unemployment is a major issue for the government, policy makers and planners. Although unemployment is a social problem, youth unemployment is of particular concern because of the effect it can have on a person's future. Youth is an important time for choosing a career, gaining and developing skills, establishing an identity and obtaining independence. As a nation, youth unemployment accounts for a large amount of expenditure.
The cost of youth unemployment in regard to unemployment benefits and the cost of countering and treating crime and mental and physical health problems are very difficult to quantify. In terms of early school leaving, however, some figures have been quantified. The Dusseldorp Skills Forum estimate that 'the cost to individuals, governments and the rest of society as a result of the disadvantages of higher unemployment, lower incomes and other costs arising from early school leaving in Australia is estimated at $ 2. 6 billion every year' (Spierings, 2001: 7 - 8). Applied Economics estimated that if half of all early school leavers over a five year period are provided with a Year 12 or equivalent education, unemployment benefits would be reduced by approximately $ 80 million per annum.
References Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Labour Force Australia, ABS, September 2003, pp. 1, 6, 9 - 10, 13. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 'Work -Unemployment: Youth Unemployment', Australian Social Trends 1995, Australia Crime Prevention Division, 'Factors Influencing Criminal Offending', Juvenile Crime in New South Wales Report, Chapter 4, web Accessed on 6 / 6 / 2005 Dusseldorp Skills Forum, How Young People are Faring: Key Indicators 2003, Dusseldorp Skills Forum, Sydney, August 2003, p. 4 OECD, Employment Outlook 2003, in Dusseldorp Skills Forum, How Young People are Faring: Key Indicators 2003, Dusseldorp Skills Forum, Sydney, August 2003, p. 26 Online Research Engine web Accessed on 7 / 5 / 2005 Strathdee, R and Hughes, D 'Changes in Young Peoples's oil Networks and Welfare Reform in Australia', The Drawing Board: An Australian Review of Public Affairs, vol. 3, no. 1, July 2002, p. 34. Spierings, J 'Regional and local government initiatives to support youth pathways: lessons from innovative communities', ACER Understanding Youth Pathways Conference, Melbourne, October 2001. Weatherburn, D 'The impact of unemployment on crime' in Saunders, P and Taylor, R (eds), (2001) The Price of Prosperity, pp 226 - 248 Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.
Weatherburn D. (2001), What causes crime? (Crime and Justice Bulletin B 54) at URL: web Accessed on 5 / 6 / 2005 World Bank, 'The Global Crisis of Youth Unemployment', http//: web Accessed on 6 / 6 / 2005 Bibliography Hartley, R. (1985) What Price Independence? Youth Affairs Council of Victoria Inc. Fitzroy Poole, M. E. (1983) Youth: Expectations and Transitions, Routledge & Kegan Paul, Melbourne Wooden, M. (1999) Impediments to the Employment of Young People, NCVER, Australia
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