This course is discontinued

EAST4507 – East Asia: Capital and Labour

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The topic of the course is the forms of capital-labour relationship characteristic of the countries of East Asia, both those, which have been incorporated into the capitalist world-system for relatively longer periods (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan) and those, recently incorporated (China, Vietnam). While the exclusion of labour from the dominant political bodies and authoritative forms of culture is assumed to be a common feature of the capitalist accumulation and “development” in all these countries, the course focuses on the important differences between the “soft authoritarian” managerial models of post-war Japan, “harder” modes of exclusion and cooptation of different sectors of labour in South Korea and Taiwan, and essential disenfranchisement/disempowerment of labour in China/Vietnam. It gives both the overviews of the predominant forms of labour control/exploitation on macro-level, and more detailed case studies-based analyses of the modes of domination and control on the micro-level of the concrete workplaces. It also analyzes how the values of “labour” are constructed in the hegemonic cultural paradigms in the countries in question.

The students are expected to put their research into the regional perspective, even if they focus primarily on one country only

Learning outcome

  • You will learn to analyse complex socio-political phenomena taking into consideration the global environment, traditional regional paradigms and concrete local situations
  • You will improve your abilities to critically utilize the research literature, and clearly formulate your own standpoints.
  • You will acquire a broad overview of the main existing theoretical approaches towards the relationship between capital and labour, their history and their limitations.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

Students who have been accepted for the Master Programme in Asian and African Studies will get priority.


Recommended previous knowledge

The course requires good knowledge of English. The course is specially recommended for those, who have previously taken a 40-credits group in East Asian Studies.


The course consists of seminars and lectures (approx. 20 hours in total). The students are to present an essay (semesteroppgave: 8-10 pages) on a topic chosen in cooperation with the teacher, closely connected to the content of the course. A draft sketch of the essay is to be presented to the teacher for preliminary evaluation and collective discussion in the class. In the process of collecting the materials for and writing of the essay the students are being offered individualized personal instruction.


Students are to present an essay (semesteroppgave: ca. 3000 words not incuding the list of references) on a topic chosen in cooperation with the teacher, closely connected to the content of the course. The topic is chosen at the beginning of the semester, and a draft sketch of the essay is presented to the teacher two months later for preliminary evaluation. The submission of the draft sketch and the fulfilment of the teacher’s assignments related to the additional reading are prerequisites for being allowed to take the exam.

The essay should be fully referenced following either Harvard or Chicago system

Active participation in the discussions on each other’s draft is obligatory.

The student must hand in an Obligatory statement regarding cheating along with the term paper.

The assessment is integrated in the course lessons and it is therefore not possible to sit for the exam unless the student is registered for the teaching component of the course.

Language of examination

Students are expected to use English for their oral and written presentations and exam essay.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Periodic evaluation spring 2010

Facts about this course






The course was given for the last time Spring 2011.

Teaching language