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The Corporation and the Gig-Economy (ANTH30021)

Undergraduate level 3Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 3
Subject codeANTH30021
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

In the age of automation, working means either getting endless, short terms, and precarious “gigs,” or becoming part of massive international corporations. This subject explores the relations and tensions between these two worlds, focusing on recent ethnographic work on the gig-economy and large companies (Coca-Cola, Ford, Philip Morris, Dow Chemical, Chevron-Texaco). Considering the cultural dynamics internal to multinational corporations as well as the social processes that generated a precarious economic landscape after the 1970s, the subject describes how these new spaces of work interact with, influence, and are shaped by community life, often in situations of significant power imbalance. With the help of guest speakers from the corporate sector and activists, we pay particular attention to the methodological and ethical challenges of carrying out research on, for, and within corporations or in the gig-economy. Case studies are drawn from India, PNG, Ecuador, Indonesia, the United States, Brazil, Eastern Europe, Italy, Japan, and South Africa.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of the subject, students should:

  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of how anthropologists approach work and corporations as an object of study.
  • Critically analyze and compare theories about the diverse social and cultural meanings that work and corporations have been accorded at different times and at different places.
  • Understand how to use ethnographic evidence to critically evaluate large-scale claims about corporate social responsability.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the ethical and methodological challenges of 'studying up,' with a particular focus on the strengths, limitations, and challenges of conducting ethnographic fieldwork in corporate settings.
  • Communicate effectively in written and oral formats, and collaborate in groups with people of diverse disciplinary and cultural backgrounds.

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

ANTH10001 Anthropology: Studying Human Diversity

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



Hurdle requirement: Students must attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials in order to pass this subject. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Hurdle requirement: Hurdle requirement: Students must attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials in order to pass this subject. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.
Throughout the semesterN/A


  • 1500 words
Mid semester40%

Research Essay

  • 2500 words
During the examination period60%

Dates & times

  • Semester 2
    CoordinatorsErin Fitz-Henry and Fabio Mattioli
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours30 hours: 1 x 1.5 hour lecture and 1 x 1 hour tutorial per week for 12 weeks.
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period29 July 2019 to 27 October 2019
    Last self-enrol date 9 August 2019
    Census date31 August 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail27 September 2019
    Assessment period ends22 November 2019

    Semester 2 contact information

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    There are no specifically prescribed or recommended texts for this subject.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 21 September 2019