LBST 328 / GEOG 328: Labour Geographies

This research guide provides an overview and starting guidance to research for Labour Studies 328: Labour Geographies.

If you need help, please contact Moninder Lalli, Liaison Librarian: Graduate Business Programs; Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies; Sociology/Anthropology; Labour Studies Program; Komagata Maru at 778.782.4264 (Voicemail - Burnaby); 778-782-5043 (No voicemail - Vancouver) or or Ask a librarian.


Library guides


Steps in the process

At the start

  1. Think about your topic and
  2. Look for background information (encyclopedias, handbooks, introductory texts).
  3. Formulate a research question
  4. Brainstorm about keywords for each concept for your topic
  5. Create a search strategy before entering words into the search engine(s)
  6. Make a note of any key authors or references (citations)


Search Tips & Techniques

  • Use "or" to combine same concept
    • When using one line search box, also put braces "()" around your synonyms.  E.g. (elderly or seniors or aged)
  • Use "and" to combine different concepts
  • Use "quotation marks" to search for an exact phrase
  • Use asterisk (*) the truncation symbol, for variation on endings of words (child* will find: child, children, childless, childlike)
    • "$, ?, *, !" are common truncation symbols. Most use asterisk.
  • Alternate spellings: most databases use American spelling - try both versions (i.e. honour or honor)
  • Alternate words: youth or adolescents or teenagers or young adults // aged or elderly or seniors or old people
    • Modify your terms when during your searches you become aware of new terminology to describe your topic.
    • Subject headings, descriptors or thesauri words
      • Examine the relevant references (citations) more carefully. Check their subject headings, descriptors or thesauri words that describe the key concepts contained within that article/book reference.  These concepts are the "main focus" of that book/article so your search results will be more relevant.
    • General or specific concept words: North America or Canada or Vancouver or Downtown Eastside
  • Abbreviations: TV or television

Background information


General Reference

Subject-Specific Encyclopedias / Dictionaries:

Tip:  Check out the Further Reading lists at the end of each encyclopedia entry for citations to key works on that topic!


Find Books in the Library

Use the Advanced Keyword Search.


Books by a Specific Author or Organization

Select Author  from the pulldown menu in the Books, journals, media (catalogue)

Keyword Search

Terms to consider:

  • "forced labor" or "modern slavery" or "bonded labor" or "unfree labor" or "human trafficking"
  • "child labor"
  • government policy and (topic)
    • government policy and minimum wage
  • "international law" or "international cooperation" or "international standards" or "international compliance"

Geographical / Spacial Terms

Tip: think about using terms that describe broader geographic areas to very specific small locations

  • Global: global or world or transnational or international or supranational
  • Names of specific regions at a "macroregional" level: EU, ASEAN, North America, South Asia, Latin America, OECD, SAARC
  • Names of countries: Canada, United States, Brazil, Mexico, India, France, Greece, Russia
  • Regional / provincial level:  California, North East England, Western provinces, Atlantic Canada
  • City / local: Vancouver, London, Beijing,
  • Parts of a city


Tip: think about using both full names and abbreviations. Remember the "alternate" spellings of terms (labor or labour)

  • NGOs or "non-governmental organizations" or CSO or "civil society organization"
  • "think tank*" or "research institute*"
  • WTO or World Trade Organization or IMF or International Monetary Fund


  • law or laws or legislat* or regulat*
  • policy or policies
  • standards


E.g. How have the geographies of union activity changed in North America and Europe since the advent of neoliberalism?

Key concepts are highlighted.  Even though the word "labour" has not been used in the question, it is implied since "unions" are created by labour.  According to Oxford Dictionary of Geography, "neoliberalism" means, ".... generally to be agreed that this term refers to the liberalizing of global markets associated with the reduction of state power: state interventions in the economy are minimized."

("labour geography" or "labor geography" or "labour movement" or "labor movement")
neoliberal* or (liberali* and global market*) or capitali*

("North America" or "Europe")  

Note: See how there are in results list before adding the last set.  You could also try adding names of specific countries to this search


If the above search turns out to be too restrictive, then try making it even more general:

geograph* or regional* or spatial
unions or labor or labour
North Americ* or Europe*

Other topics:

Labour / Labor Geography

  • ("labor geography" or "labour geography") AND unions
  • ("labor geography" or "labour geography") AND unions AND "Canad*

Globalization and labor

  • global* and (labor or labour)
  • global*  and (labor or labour) and standards
  • labor and ("international corporat*" or "transnational corporat*" or multinational corporat*)
  • WTO and (labor or labour)

International solidarity among labor movements

  • "international solidarity" and "labor movement*"
  • labor unions and international cooperation
  • international labor union*
  • transnational trade union*

Global economy and labour movement

  • ("global economy" or global capital*) and ("labor movement*" or "labour moverment" or "trade union*" or "worker rights")
  • transnational labour migration
  • labour mobility and migrat*

Labour Rights

  • (ILO or "International Labour Organization") AND  (policy or policies or standards) and (name or country)
  • immigrant* and (work or jobs or labour or employment) and (rights or protection or standards) and canad*
  • global*  and (labor or labour) and standards

Women and work

  • women and work and migrat*
  • (domestic workers or household employees) and transnational migration
  • intersectionality and work
  • Filipinos nannies
Tip: Use subject headings associated with relevant books to find additional items.


Subject Headings

Tip: For a really long list of books: Limit/Sort by "newest first"

Find Journal Articles

Try using databases to get the perspective of different disciplines.

  • How to Find Journal Articles. The majority of our databases have a link
    • Where Can I Get This? Use this link to find a copy of article (print or fulltext) but if SFU Library does not own the journal, then you can request a copy through Document Delivery (free).

Databases for Journal Articles

  • America: History and Life - Indexes literature on all aspects of U.S. and Canadian history, culture and current affairs from prehistoric times to the present
  • Business Source Complete
    • For country profiles, choose "country profile" box, and in keyword search box, enter your terms: France
    • Use "thesaurus" for subject specific term:  e.g. when you look up labor unions, you could choose descriptor words that will make your searches more relevant:
      • DE "LABOR unions & international relations"
  • Econlit - Index to economics journals. Use their descriptors by browsing the "index" (subject)
    • e.g. choose: (ZE "labor mobility, national and international migration"
  • Canadian Public Policy Collection - Full text of public policy documents from Canadian institutes, think-tanks and research groups. 
  • GEOBASE  -- for all Geography topics. Covers "labour geography" area.
  • Historical Abstracts - Indexes literature on the history of the world since 1450 except for the United States and Canada.
  • Social Sciences Full Text 
  • Sociological Abstracts -
  • SourceOECD
    • publications by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including country studies, forecasting publications, reports, periodicals, and socio-economic databases.
  • Web of Science  A combined search of all of the Web of Science Citation indexes.
  • Women's Studies International  - for feminist perspectives.

Databases for Current Events News and Commentary

News and commentary sources provide valuable information on current events. These resources provide immediate coverage on contemporary issues. Although they are not a scholarly source, they are valuable for their timely information of facts and opinion.

  • Canadian Newsstream - Full-text of major Canadian newspapers and Canwest's small-market BC papers
  • LexisNexis - Indexes newspapers from around the world, in English and other languages. Includes transcripts from the major television and radio networks
  • This database combines over 35,000 sources (newspapers, newswires, industry publications, websites, company reports, and more) from 200 countries, in 26 languages.
  • PressDisplay - Current issues of newspapers from around the world. Some newspapers include the provision for language translation and/or audio of stories, once selected.

Finding Statistics and Data

Often you can find summarized data (with analysis) as part of published reports, so consider publications by governmental and international organizations, independent researchers, special interest groups/associations, etc.  Remember to think about potential bias or influence when examining these materials.

Research guides

General and Labour Statistics


  • BCSTATS - The place to start for current BC socio-economic statistics, including quick facts and historical tables. Note that SFU researchers have access to several key BC Stats publications
  • Labour Program  Government of Canada
  • Statistics Canada - Current and historical Canadian socio-economic statistics.
    • Labour
      • how many people are employed or unemployed; the unemployment rate; which industries or occupations people work in;
      • the hours they work; commuting patterns; wage and non-wage benefits; job training; labour mobility;
      • work absences; unionization; unpaid work; and other topics. Also includes geographic and demographic characteristics.
      • Labour Force Survey
        -  a monthly survey which measures the current state of the Canadian labour market and is used, among other things, to   calculate the national, provincial, territorial and regional employment.

United States


  • Economist Intelligence Unit - Look for Country Reports for up-to-date economic & political profiles (just below the section on Country Profiles - which links to their older reports)
  • European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO)
  • Global Gender Gap Report
  • LABORSTA- database of labour statistics and methodologies covering the economically active population, employment, unemployment, wages and related variables.
  • SourceOECD - includes statistical data on country studies, forecasting publications, reports, periodicals, and socio-economic databases. Topics covered include agriculture, developing economies, education, employment, energy, environment, migration, social issues, and sustainable development.
    • Choose: Statistics
      • Choose: Trade Unions --> Employment and Labour Market Statistics
        • E.g. Union Members and Employees (international comparison chart)