Ian Robinson

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Lecturer, Social Theory and Practice Program

Office Location(s): 1712 East Quad
Phone: 734.763.1862
Personal Website
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  • About

    Robinson has been working on issues related to labor and globalization, with a particular focus on North America, for about 20 years now. Questions he has explored include the following. How has neoliberal economic restructuring — including the changes promoted by trade agreements such as NAFTA — affected the situation of rural and urban workers in the three countries of North America? How have workers and their organizations — unions but also new organizational forms such as workers’ centers and the anti-sweatshop movement — responded to the challenges posed by this restructuring? What alternatives to the neoliberal model of economic organization promise a more just and environmentally sustainable form of economic order? What will it take, politically, for such an alternative to prevail?

    In addition to scholarly research and writing, and courses related to these topics, Robinson is engaged with these issues as a labor activist. He is an elected officer of the union of nontenure-track faculty at the U of Michigan, which he helped to organize. He is also a board member of the Washtenaw County Workers’ Center, which aims to increase the power of low-wage workers in the Washtenaw County area.

    Recent Courses

    RC SSci 363 / Soc 353: Mexican Labor in North America: Nogales Field Study and Seminar

    RC SSci 280 / Soc 280: Moral Choice in Context: Historical and Social Psychological Perspectives (co-taught with Dr. Hank Greenspan)

    Soc 325: The Sociology of Service Learning

    Soc 389: Project Community

    Selected Articles

    2008. “Reorganizing Higher Education in the United States and Canada: The Erosion of Tenure and the Unionization of Contingent Faculty,” 33(2) Labor Studies Journal (Summer), pp. 117-140. (With David Dobbie).

    2008. “Consumers with a Conscience: Will They Pay More?” in Jeff Goodwin and James M. Jasper, eds., The Contexts Reader. (New York: W.W. Norton), pp. 207-214. (With Howard Kimeldorf, Rachel Meyer, and Monica Prasad).

    2007. Review of Rodney Haddow and Thomas Klassen, Partisanship, Globalization, and Canadian Labour Market Policy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006), in 62 (4) Relations industrielles / Industrial Relations (Fall), pp. 783-786.

    2007. Review of Deborah Eade and Alan Leather, eds., Development NGOs and Labour Unions: Terms of Engagement. (Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press, 2005), in 59 Labour / Le Travail (Winter), pp. 302-5.

    2007. “The Consumer Dimension of Stakeholder Activism: The Anti-Sweatshop Movement in the United States,” in Michel Feher, ed., Non-Governmental Politics (Cambridge, Mass: Zone Books, distributed by MIT Press), pp. 200-221.

    2006. “Review Essay: Political Culture, Labor Movement Power, Religion, and Public Policy in Canada and the United States: Vive la différence?” 35(3) Contemporary Sociology (May), pp. 237-242.

    2005. “Fighting to be Fired (But Only with Just Cause): The Unionization of Nontenure-Track Faculty,” Dissent (Winter 2005), pp. 19-24. (With Jennet Kirkpatrick).

    Books Published

    State, Society, and the Development of Canadian Federalism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990. (with Richard Simeon)

    North American Trade As If Democracy Mattered: What’s Wrong with the NAFTA and What are the Alternatives? Ottawa and Washington, D.C.: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and International Labor Rights Education and Research Fund, 1994. Forthcoming. “What Explains the Growing Demand for Unionization among Unorganized Workers?” Contribution to Symposium on Steven Lopez, Reorganizing the Rust Belt: An Inside Study of the American Labor Movement (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2004), in Labor Studies Journal.

    Forthcoming. “Politics, Markets, or Both?” Contribution to Symposium on Gay Seidman, Beyond the Boycott: Labor Rights, Human Rights and Transnational Activism. (New York, N.Y.: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006), Labour History.


  • Education
    • Ph.D. Yale University (Political Science), 1990