SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Issues of the working poor and development

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2021/2022
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 3
Taught in:
Term 2

The aim of this module is to enable students to understand major aspects of the interaction between ‘the working poor’ and ‘development’, and, as part of this, to understand how a development approach focussing on labouring groups differs conceptually from a perspective focussing on poverty, and leads to different developmental solutions. To do so, the module will consider some conceptual issues relating to labour and development, and historical aspects of labour and capitalist development in Europe and the South. It will analyse aspects of globalisation, neo-liberalism and labour and related competing theories, including differences between poverty and labour focussed approaches. It will discuss policy approaches to the working poor, including ILO’s ‘decent work’ approach, Corporate Social Responsibility and International Union approaches, and struggles of and for the working poor, by organised labour and social movements. Both mainstream and heterodox approaches will be investigated. 

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of this module a student should be able to demonstrate:

  • Familiarity with major debates on the working poor and development 
  • General knowledge of the major issues concerning the working poor in the development process
  • An ability to analyse and compare some mainstream and heterodox approaches 
  • An ability to use analytical tools and critical capacity is the analysis of issues concerning the working poor and development.


Teaching takes place through a weekly 1 hour lecture and 1 hour tutorial.

Method of assessment

100% coursework. Each student will be expected to submit one essay (2,000 words) worth 65% and an NGO/Trade Union Blog (1,000 words) worth 35% of the final grade. Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules