How Not To Skip Class: Social Reproduction of Labor and the Global Working Class

Bhattacharya, Tithi

Publisher:  Europe Solidaires Sans Frontieres
Date Written:  31/10/2018
Year Published:  2018  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23153

This essay refutes conceptions of what working class really means by reactivating fundamental Marxist insights about class formation that have been obscured by decades of neoliberalism. The author argues that the key to developing a sufficient understanding of the working class is the framework of social reproduction.



Since its very formation, but particularly since the late twentieth century, the global working class has faced a tremendous challenge - how to overcome all its divisions to appear in ship-shape in full combative form to overthrow capitalism. After global working class struggles failed to surmount this challenge, the working class itself became the object of a broad range of theoretical and practical condemnations. Most often, these condemnations take the form of either declarations or predictions about the demise of the working class or simply arguing that the working class is not longer a valid agent of change. Other candidates - women, racial/ethnic minorities, new social movements, an amorphous but insurgent "people," community, to name a few - are all thrown up as possible alternatives to this presumed moribund/reformist or masculinist and economistic category, the working class.

What many of these condemnations have in common is a shared misunderstanding of exactly what the working class really is. Instead of the complex understand of class historically proposed by Marxist theory, which discloses a vision of insurgent working class power capable of transcending sectional categories, today's critics rely on a highly narrow vision of a "working class" in which a worker is simply a person who has a specific kind of job.

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