An exploration of production processes, through case studies, theory and research by economists and sociologists
In this chapter, we demonstrate how to create actual courses using the Economy Studies design toolkit, showing various example courses. Each of these courses flows from our central philosophy: teach students how to study the economy, rather than teaching them one form of economic thinking in the abstract. In terms of our principles, they vary: some of these example courses focus more on pluralism, others on real-world economics, others yet on thinking about values. As for the building blocks, each of the example courses uses at least one of the ten building blocks, while most use more than one.
These courses are described rather briefly in this chapter, as full syllabi, slides or exam questions would take up too much space in a physical book. More extensive course descriptions, syllabi and teaching material can be found in the online database of our partner organisation Exploring Economics.
The courses shown here are highly diverse, and mainly intended to inspire and to show the range of possibilities. Depending on the knowledge available within a department, the courses designed there could be vastly different from the examples shown here.
- The Challenges of Our Time (Main BB1, Additional BB2, BB3, BB8, BB9, BB10)
- Argentina and the IMF (Main BB9, Additional BB2, BB3, BB6, BB8, BB10)
- The Economics of Oil (Main BB8, Additional BB3, BB6)
- A Historical Perspective on Economic Success (Main BB4, Additional BB1, BB6)
- The Digital Economy of South Korea (Main BB2, Additional BB3, BB5, BB6)
- Agent-Based Modelling (Main BB7, Additional BB4, BB9)
- The World of Production (Main BB8, Additional BB2, BB3, BB4, BB5)
- The Political-Economic System of India (Main BB6, Additional BB2, BB3, BB10)
- Economics for a Better World (Main BB10, Additional BB1, BB2)
- Coordination and Allocation Mechanisms in Norwegian Agriculture (Main BB5, Additional BB2, BB3)
- The Economics of Financial Crises (Main BB8, Additional BB3, BB4, BB6)
Example Course 6: The World of Production
This interdisciplinary course on the topic of production is taught together by an economist and an economic sociologist. In order to achieve as much interaction and cohesiveness as possible, as well as benefiting from the intellectual specialization of both the teachers, each week has a lecture given by the economic sociologist, one by the economist, and a seminar given together by both.
In the lectures and seminars, theoretical ideas and empirical research into production are discussed. The different theories are introduced through the history of economic thought. Furthermore, special attention is given to the different ways in which production processes can be organized and run, how this has changed throughout history and differs between places and organizations.
Throughout the course, a number of excursions are organized in which a few different firms are visited. Here students are given a presentation and tour through the company. Students are required to actively participate and ask (critical) questions to managers, and both higher and lower positioned workers. These excursions are always prepared by looking at mission statements, statistics, annual reports, and potentially also news coverage on the firm.
Throughout the course, students are tasked to come up with real-world examples (economic or personal) of the theoretical concepts covered in class. These may refer to books, papers and websites. High marks are given to examples that other students did not provide. That is, your mark depends on how many other students provide similar examples and how similar they are to yours. The examples do not have to have equations or numbers, but they should have a story.
For the final assignment students have to choose one firm and perform a short empirical case study of it. For this they are required to do fieldwork (if possible some participatory observation), conduct interviews, and analyze statistics and documents.
- Handbook on the Economics and Theory of the Firm by Michael Dietrich and Jackie Krafft
- The Sociology of Work: Continuity and Change in Paid and Unpaid Work by Stephen Edgell
- The Transformation of Corporate Control by Neil Fligstein
- The Handbook of Economic Sociology: Chapter 12, 14, 19, 20, 21, 29 and 30.
- Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crises by Anwar Shaikh: Chapters 4 & 6.
- The Oxford Handbook of Women and the Economy by Susan L. Averett, Laura M. Argys, and Saul D. Hoffman: Part II Women in the Labor Market
- The Politics of Production: Factory Regimes Under Capitalism and Socialism by Michael Burawoy
- Introducing A New Economics by Jack Reardon, Maria Alejandra Madi & Molly Scott Cato: chapter 6, 7, 10, and 11.
- Economics: The User’s Guide by Ha-Joon Chang: chapter 7 and 10.
Required background knowledge:
10 ECTS (300 hrs)
This course uses the following building blocks:
- Economic Theories (BB8)
- Know your own Economy (BB2)
- Economic History (BB3)
- History of Economic Thought (BB4)
- Economic Organizations and Mechanisms (BB5)
- Research Methods and Philosophy of Science (BB7)