For both political and historiographical reasons, E. P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class had a great impact on the new radical US history at its moment of gestation. Thompson's Socialist Humanism appealed to younger radical historians seeking to break with both Cold War liberalism and a highly structuralist form of Marxism. His looser conception of class and his emphasis on culture shaped a new more flexible conception of class formation. Yet Thompson's interrogation of class analysis, and the racial and ethnic complexity of the process in the United States, encouraged an emphasis on “unmaking” in the American context. If we have deconstructed and greatly complicated the notions of class and class formation, this process started not with postmodern theory but rather with The Making. The experience of class, which resides at the center of the book, also draws our attention to the emotional dimension of class.
E. P. Thompson and the “New Labor History” in the United States
James R. Barrett
This article uncovers the distinction between calls of the far right to address what they consider to be an imbalance in political representation in Britain and local frustrations in Higher Blackley, North Manchester, England about feeling ignored by local and national government. Exploring how voting for the far right is used strategically in an attempt to communicate political disenchantment with the Labour Party, the article explains the shift in voting patterns as a protest against Labour rather than as a statement of affiliation with the core values of the British National Party. The extent of residents' anger is revealed as they explain the “unfairness“ of politicians' general neglect of the kind of people who live in Higher Blackley. This is compounded by perceptions of the preferential and “unfair“ treatment given to people from ethnic minorities. The article explains how the labeling of residents of Higher Blackley as white working class is rejected as also being “unfair“ because it ascribes negative attributes, wholesale, to the very people who were once respected for their participation in a Labour movement of their own making. The ethnographic idea of “fairness“ is revealed in the article as the opposite of labeling/fixing and as the acknowledgement of contingency, chance, and choice.
Between Knowledge of History and Historicising Knowledge
In this article I provide a critique of historiography in Near Eastern archaeology and argue that forms of narrating the past are by necessity always political in nature. Current writing styles have a bias towards the upper classes of the past. I use this insight to elaborate on new ways of writing that shift the focus to different subjects of history. As a case study, I analyse discourses about evidence from fourth millennium Mesopotamia. Finally, I point out some alternative ways to approach historiography by asking new questions about old topics.
Class, ethnicity, and the Russian-speaking miners of Estonia
In this article, I look at Russian-speaking miners' perception of their position in Estonian society, along with their moral economy. Former heroes, glorified for their class and ethnicity, they feel like a racialized underclass in neoliberal Estonia. Excluded from the nation on the basis of ethnicity, they try to maintain their dignity through the discourse of hard work as a basis for membership in society. Based on the longer-term analysis of Estonian history, I argue that the current outcome for the Russian-speaking working class is related to longer historical processes of class formation whereby each period in the Estonian history of the twentieth century seems to be the reversal of the previous one. I also argue for analysis of social change in Eastern Europe that does not focus solely on ethnicity but is linked to class formation processes.
Maurice Halbwachs, Les Classes Sociales, édition critique de Gilles Montigny, préface de Christian Baudelot, Paris : Presses Universitaires de France, 2008, pp. 300.
Subaltern politics in contemporary India
contributors to the experience of social inequality and often concomitant with the experience of poverty. The group-based perpetuation of social inequality has led sensitive scholars to observe that categories such as class and culture “occur together and
Migrants, mobility, and mobilization
Pauline Gardiner Barber and Winnie Lem
This issue brings together the work of researchers who seek to illuminate the class configurations of contemporary global diasporas. Contributions proceed by problematizing the relationship between political mobilization and the class locations of women and men as they negotiate and renegotiate the social conditions under which they make a living as émigrés, people who are subject to and participants in the processes of global change. Although class and culture, as well as mobility and fixity, are often presented as oppositional lenses though which to view global transformations, articles in this issue explore the possibilities for translation of particularized local or cultural concerns into broader collective mobilizations of class activism, nationalist claims, or struggles for entitlement in the circumscribed political spaces migrants seek to create. The gender, ethnic, local, national, and other cultural components of identity and class formation are made explicit as contributors question how and why political struggles and activism may, or indeed may not, be carried forward in geographic and social border crossings as well as citizenship and migration scenarios. It is the contention of each contributor that any instance of activism, and also its absence, requires sustained critical examination of the politics and economics of its production and reproduction.
Class and Gender Dynamics among EU Civil Servants in Brussels
Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork between 2007 and 2011 in Brussels, this article shows how visual markers, class distinctions and classification of gender performances come together to create a ‘Euroclass’ among European civil servants. These markings, distinctions and classifications are denoted on bodily hexis and body performance and evoke stereotypes and essentialised representations of national cultures. However, after the enlargements of the EU in 2004 and 2007 they also reveal a postcolonial and imperial dynamic that perpetuates the division into ‘old’ and ‘new’ Europe and enables people from old member states to emerge as a different class that holds its cultural power firm in a dense political environment permeated by networks.
In 2004, the beginning of the political year was marked by an intense
focus on the middle class. Even earlier, during the closing months
of the previous year, the public had been alerted to the middle class
as an issue by virtue of journalistic investigations documenting the
malaise of social groups, which, all things considered, had been supposed
to be in good or passable health up to that point. There was
talk of poverty among vulnerable sections of the population, but not
yet of the impoverishment of the middle classes. Whether or not the
middle class was indeed becoming poorer then became the main focus
of the discussion. In this chapter we shall try to see how the question
emerged, how far it corresponds with the facts, and, finally, its significance
for Italian politics. With this in mind, we shall be asking, in particular,
whether in future the crisis of the middle class is destined to be
an important topic and recognized as such in the political arena.
The Psychic Economy of Class in the Discourse of Girlhood Studies
This article questions Angela McRobbie's recent text The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture and Social Change because it creates some interesting new vocabulary for understanding late modernity's revised sexual and cultural politics. Whilst acknowledging the sophistication of its cultural studies-inspired argument, I consider some consequences of this reading. If theory also performs as a politics of representation, I ask what happens if, in accounting for post-feminism, the theoretical status of class as an antagonistic relation is diminished. I suggest what gender and education discourses can add to a reading of 'new times'.