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Alternatives to Capitalism

Soc 540
Spring 2006
Linda Markowitz
Office Hours: T/TH: 12:30-2:00 and Tues: 5-6:00

Web Address:

Alternatives (to) Capitalism(s)

The discussion of alternatives to capitalism is a discussion fundamentally about the organization of survival among people.   This is because capitalism is but one mode of economic structure and, like all economic structures, its purpose is to sustain and propagate present and future generations. As such, we cannot think about capitalism, or alternatives to it, without also analyzing issues of family, gender, race and class.   Ironically, the authors that have given most thought to issues of economy rarely discuss issues of family, gender and race.    For this reason, one major goal of our class is to make integral these crucial constructs for our understanding of the economy.

In order to fully understand alternatives to capitalism we must grapple with what the present system offers.  For that reason, we will be attempting to gain an understanding of the status quo as well as thinking about alternatives.   We will read Adam Smith, of whom many consider the “father” of capitalism and his contemporary William Godwin, an anarchist who had a completely different vision for society’s potential.    Historical thinkers of the economy have relevance for us today, not only because they built the roads down which the present structures reside, but also because they provide a language by which modern thinkers justify their ideas.   

Again, as you read both contemporary and historical intellectuals, ask yourself how their ideas may have been different had they considered issues of race, gender and family.

As this is a graduate class, I expect students to keep up with the readings.   Although, your ideas are always welcomed,   class discussion is hampered when it is directed by ad-hoc beliefs rather than formulated thoughts inspired by the readings.


Books: (please note that if you do not purchase your books within the first three weeks of school, the bookstore sends the books back to the publishers.   You may also purchase the books from on-line sources.  It might be cheaper....But please be sure to have a copy of the books when we discuss them). 

Karl Marx –             The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 Karl Marx
Fitzhugh Brundage         A Socialist Utopia in the New South, 1996
Tom Haydn            The Zapatista Reader, 2001
John Cavanaugh
and Jerry Manders, editors    Alternatives to Economic Globalization       
Marge Piercy            Women on the Edge of Time, 1976

Articles:   I will hand these out.

Seminar Requirements

A seminar differs from traditional classes in that students are expected to help lead the direction of the class.  At this level of the University, students are assumed to be interested in the material, and thus, excited to engage themselves in the material.   I expect, then, that all the students will be prepared for class each period the class meets.     Given the advanced nature of the class, I believe that students have a unique and important viewpoint to contribute to the literature and will require that students make their viewpoint known in a variety of ways:

A) Class participation (15%): Students will be graded on how much they contribute to class discussion.  Contribution is operationalized by how well the student guides and defines the literature. 

B) Class Presentation (15%): Each student will be expected to lead class discussion twice. As you can see, the reading load is quite heavy for this class.   The students who are responsible for weekly discussions will provide a one to two page outline of the readings in which the student not only highlights the major themes, but also critiques the themes.  A critiques entails answering the following questions:

I encourage that students supplement the readings with outside articles, although this is not a requirement

A) What is the author(s) trying to argue?
B) How does the author(s) try to explain the argument?
C) What does the author assume about the nature of work, family, women, and people of color?
D) What are the empirical and theoretical strengths and weaknesses? ie., what are the assumptions behind the author's propositions, does the evidence answer the question presented in the argument, is the argument logically coherent?
E) Given the author’s argument, what should be done about issues of oppression?

In addition, the student will be expected to answer:
    A) How do the readings relate to previous readings/discussions?
    B) How do the readings contribute to an understanding of the economy, society’s organization, race, gender and class?

C) Written Assignments

        Option 1:

    a) Position Papers (15% each): Students will write two position papers during the semester that will be due the day we discuss the articles.  This means you are required to turn in the paper BEFORE we discuss the readings in class.  These position papers must be over material that DOES NOT correspond with the days you are a class facilitator.   Thus, in all, each student will be responsible for four entirely different days of readings, two over which you will lead class discussion and two of which you will write a position paper.   The papers should be 6-8 pages and WILL NOT be a summary of the work under discussion.   A summary of the readings will receive a “D” or lower on the assignment.  Rather than a summary, students are expected to understand how the readings fit into the broader discussions about work, the economy and gender, race, class.     Indeed, you must address all the questions above, but in essay form. 

The first position paper must be due by: March 1
The second position paper is due by: April 26th

    b) Literature Review Paper (40%): In this paper the student will choose one area related to alternatives to capitalism and do a complete literature review on the area.   A literature review is an analysis of the topic under study.  It requires that students understand the logic of how the different writings fit together.  The literature review requires the following:

1) An abstract that describes the paper
2) A 15-20 page, double-spaced paper that summarizes the literature in a logical way, using citations to back up claims.  The paper should also address the strengths and weaknesses of the literature.  What questions are left unanswered in the literature and should be further studied?
3) A complete bibliography with at least 10 articles and 4 books cited.
NOTE: A literature review IS NOT simply a summary of all the articles you have read.  Such a paper will automatically receive a “D” or less. Rather, a literature review helps the reader understand where the state of the literature is presently situated.

For instance: If I do a literature review on why women are less likely covered by unions, I can organize the literature by theoretical paradigm.  For instance, I can claim that there are three broad paradigms which try to explain why women participate less in unions.  A) Individual Level Theories which focus on the internal motivations of women B) Structural Level Theories which focus on how the organization of work and unions keep women out and C) Meso-Level Theories which focus on the relationship between work, union and families.    As I explain these paradigms, I cite the studies which are relevant.  One article, then, can be discussed in all three theories in the article covers all three paradigms.

       Option 2

a) Rather than completing 2 position papers and a research paper,  students may choose to do 9 position papers of 5-7 pages in length.  Students would still be required to lead discussion twice.  Furthermore,  students could NOT write position papers for the same material in which they are presenting orally to the class.   In essence, then, if students choose this option, they are writing on the material for 11 different class periods.  Please see directions above to see how to write the position papers

    D) Daily Thoughts:   Each day, students will be expected to write 2 questions about the readings that they would like to see pursued in class.    The questions should be written on a strip of paper, WITHOUT the students name.  We will put all questions in a hat and then choose them randomly in class to discuss.

Reading Schedule
January 10th
Week 1: Introduction   and   Movie: No Logo by Naomi Klein

January 17
Week 2:  Traditional Capitalists,

Adam Smith,         “The Wealth of Nation” pp 29-35; 43-63.
Karl Polonyi,         “The Great Transformation”   33-76.
Martin Sklar,        “The Corporate Reconstruction of American Capitalism”
Victoria Hattam,     “Institutions and Political Change”         

January 24th               
Week 3: Marxists

 Rosa Luxembourg,     “The Accumulation of Capital”
Karl Marx         The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 Karl Marx

January 31th
Week 4: Traditional Socialist Anarchists

Emma Goldman,         “Anarchism and Other Essays”
Murry Bookchin,         “The Spanish Anarchists”
William Godwin        “An Epistemological Basis for Anarchism” and “Anarchists on Education
Rudolph Rocker        “Anarchists in the Labor Movement.”
Daniel Guerin            “Basic Ideas”


February 7th
Week 5: Alternatives to Capitalism in the U.S. Late Nineteenth Century and Its Containment

W. Fitzhugh Brundage     A Socialist Utopia in the New South
Wendy Chmielewski et al.      “Women in Spiritual and Communitarian Societies in the U.S.”
Donald Pitzer, ed.,         “American’s Communal Utopias”
Bob Holder             “The NO Nelson Story”

February 14th
Week 6:   Neo-liberal Capitalism in U.S. after WWII and Its Critics

Milton Friedman        Excerpts from Freedom and Capitalism
Rogers Hollingsworth    “The Institutional Embeddedness of American Capitalism”
Alfred Chandler         Excerpts from Scale and Scope
Fred Block            “Ruling Class Does not Rule”

February 21st
Week 7: Neo-liberal Capitalism Goes Global

Kim Scipes        “Global Economic Crisis, Neo-liberal Solutions, and the Philippines”
Diane Elson        “Gender Awareness in Modeling Structural Adjustment”
Andy Storey        “Structural Adjustment, State Power and Genocide: The World Bank and Rwanda”
Ngaire Woods
and A. Narlikar    “Governance and the Limits of Accountability: the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank”
Christian Weller    “How International Finance Facilitates Corporate Mobility”

February 28th:
Week 8:

Other Countries and capitalism:   How is gender, race and family conceptualized here?
Gosta Esping-Anderson        “The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism”
Evelyne Huber and John Stephens.    “Internationalization and the Social Democratic Model:                       Crisis and Future Prospects”
Joel Rogers and W. Streeck        “A Study of Work Councils”
Wolfgang Streeck            “Work Councils in Western Europe”
Birte Sim                “Gendered Scandanivians Welfare States”
Arnlaug Leira                “The Woman Friendly Welfare State”
March 14th
Week 9:  Are There Worker-Friendly Capitalists?  Rise of Socially responsible company

Milton Friedman        “The Social Responsibility of Capitalists is to Make Money”
Ben and Jerry’s book,      “Ben and Jerry’s Double Dip”
Peter Kinder, S. Lydenberg    “Investing for Good.”
and Amy Domini
Another Article to be Handed Out

 March 21st       
Week 10:
Visiting Professor: Bob Blain talks about New Money System

March 28th
Week 11: Alternatives to Capitalisms in Other Countries

Sharryn Kasmir            “The Myth of the Mondragon”
Raymond Russell            “Utopia in Zion.”

April 4th
Week 12:Alternatives to Capitalism in the US 

Video                     “Democracy in the Workplace.”
Joyce Rothschild-Whitt        “The Collectivist Organization”
Varia                    “When Workers Decide”
Judith Brown and J Quarter        “ Resistance to Change”
Case Studies, Burley, East-Wind peanut butter

April 11
Week 13: Alternatives in Fiction

Book:  Woman On the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

April 18th
Week 14:   Zapitista Movement: Social Movements that Challenge Capitalism
Book: The Zapatista Reader by Tom Hayden

April 25
Week 15: Alternative Market Economies

Book: Alternatives to Economic Globalization edited by John Cavanagh and Jerry Mander