Class and Urban Identities

  • Created by: KDallers-
  • Created on: 17-06-19 18:18

Intro to Class and Marxist Outlook

Class is at the CENTRE of historical analysis, and looks at context and theory; MARX - sees class as the natural division of society - the 'haves and have nots' - the CLASSES OF INDUSTRIAL CAPITALISM - aristocracy, bourgeoisie, proletariat - have various economic relationships to the MEANS OF PRODUCTION

- HISTORY develops through CONFLICT between the classes - mainly BOURGEOISIE and PROLETARIAT - develops as classes form 'consciousness' of their situation (ie proletariat see how they are being exploited) and BECOME POLITICAL ACTIVE so that they can change this; the MATERIAL FACTORS shape their IDEAS - anti-Hegelian

- The PROLETARIAT only have their labour as a product, which is stripped from them as soon as they go to work - therefore, they become UNHAPPY with their situation, and STRUGGLE to change things - the classis UNIFIED and has a COLLECTIVIST IDENTITY which they pursue

- MARX - suggests this explains reality and is a FRAMEWORK FOR CHANGE - links to the Social Transformation from 1945-1990 (Hobsbawn); there was a changing way of like - death of peasantry? Death of working class?

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Marxist Theory in More Detail

"THE HISTORY OF ALL HITHERTO EXISTING SOCIETY IS THE HISTORY OF CLASS STRUGGLE" - about the history of conflict being a pattern in history, specifically between "Haves" and "Have Not" - capitalist struggle was predated by LORDS VS PEASANTS (feudal), slaves vs slave owners (slavery) etc - HISTORICAL MATERIALISM

- How does this work? The bourgeoisie hold 'BOURGEOIS REVOLUTIONS' so their economic power can become political power - things like the English Civil War (Hill), Great Reform Act 1832 (Cannadine)

- After this, the proletariat take action through their OWN REVOLUTIONS - consciousness relates to the shift, and their revolutions drive history to the next stage - a MECHANISTIC AND TELEOLOGICAL APPROACH - applied to Britain by E.P Thompson

- However - adapting this to real life situations is never that easy - never maps out EXACTLY to an example and has to be more NUANCED - E.P Thompson saw class as a SOCIAL RELATIONSHIP in Britain, for example, and Cannadine suggests class has NO REVOLUTIONARY CAPACITY in Britain, so it turns to democratic socialism and welfare instead

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Death of Class as a Concept

"Rise and Fall of Class" - important, as class can be seen as a 'British' issue to politicians etc.; is class a CHALLENGE to political discourse? John Major's 'classless society' and class as a 'communist concept' to Thatcher - CLASS AS A PERVERSION OF HISTORY in the 1980s

- History sees class as a key analytical factor, but due to deindustrialisation and fragmentation of the working class due to a changing economy, may have been 'dismissed' - things were more SPEICALISED now, and there was MORE DEFERENCE and less consciousness

- A more complex social order - labour no longer unified people, whereas things like being a woman and skin colour did - more IDENTITY POLITICS - history would EXPLAIN CLASS, not vice versa (Cannadine)

A good example is also the DEATH OF THE PEASANTRY - universally, a HALVING of the peasantry from 1945-1980s, apart from in India, China, Africa, Turkey, South East Asia - in most developed places, great decline (x5 in Japan and Finland); this was due to new, CAPITAL-INTENSIVE PRODUCTIVITY in the West, and more URBANISATION in the global South

- 42% lived in cities by the 80s, and Third World cities were especially growing - Mexico City, grew by X5; also new 'great cities' with lots of rural people migrating to them - Nairobi 

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Death of the Working Class

Victorian Britain - since this point, the 'working class' has changed due to deindustrialisation - lost 25% of manufacturing from 1980-84, and the RISE OF SERVICES - the 'working class' had now diversified - not just factories, but varied jobs - decline of CONSCIOUSNESS - this made class MORE LIKE 'CULTURE' (Lawrence)

- Runciman - class was about social behaviour rather than the economy from WWI onwards; class was 'evolving' - decline also supported by McKibbin, who agreed with Montpellier's triadic model of class - less homogenous, as WHITE VS BLUE COLLAR divisions emerged (Runciman)

- More fragmented due to CORPORATISM (Middlemas), technology, consumerism and greater SECULARISATION - workers were now more affluent, so less conscious of oppression - post-Fordism

- Manual labour was on the decline due to greater automation, which also led to the decline of unionism - 1984-85 Miners' Strike showed this - undermined traditional socialism in favour of 'new capitalism'; there was now an 'upper' and 'lower' class of workers

- What replaced this? IDENTITY POLITICS - more immigrants in the 'proletarian' work force, leading to racism and HOMOGENEITY of workers turning quickly to FRAGMENTATION

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Rise of Identity Politics as a Response

Why did Marxist views of class only speak of WHITE MEN - created tension - what of WOMEN?

- Feminist critiques led by Joan Scott, Anna Clarke - women now formed a part of the WORKING CLASS which was growing in size following DEINDUSTRIALISATION, and more jobs in the services industry - however, they were still in 'subaltern positions' (Hobsbawm) - things like cleaning; however, this still provided a NEW ROLE FOR WOMEN

- New role gave rise to 2ND WAVE FEMINISM - looking at issues like abortion, divorce and liberalisation of laws, as well as female access to education; HOWEVER, in many nations, women still had a DUAL RESPONSIBILITY - home and work (in USSR, for example); FUNDAMENTALISM of family roles was UNDERMINING TRUE EQUALITY

- 1990 - there were only 16 women political leaders; however, among the middle classes, there was a sense that women had 'conquered masculinity'; WOMEN had their OWN CAREERS, and men were no longer able to INTERFERE with womens' lives - progression?

- POSTCOLONIAL scholars argue similar points for ethnic minorities; POSTSTRUCTURAL - questions whether class is simply words - look at how we INTERPRET CLASS through language instead; should be more discursive

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Other Critiques of Class

Individualism - liberalism now rejected COLLECTIVISM, therefore this took the basis of class consciousness away - no material truth to this, and class is seen as LESS DETERMINISTIC - there is an EVOLVING SOCIAL STRUGGLE with 'categories of people' (Runciman) based on their SOCIO-OCCUPATIONAL STATUS as opposed to class - so, no MATERIAL BASIS

- Class needs to be REEVALUATED - Cannadine based on Montpellier - either hierarchical, tridadic, or adversarial class structure - how can we DESCRIBE INEQUALITY?

- EDUCATION - class no longer seems relevant to education, as many people from ALL BACKGROUNDS now attend university (late 20th century) - class doesn't seem RELEVANT any longer, as 2% of the ENTIRE POPULATION were students - up to 3 in some nations; was a global trend, as PARENTS SAVED to send their children to university

- STUDENTS - were these a new class? Hobsbawm - no - not inside Marxist structure, and student revolutions always triggered a larger, more identifiable class group (like workers) who really drove the revolutions - STUDENTS ARE PRONE TO RADICALISM, however may have overtaken workers - 1968 Revolutions, Tiananmen Square 1980s - were students OVERLOOKED?

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History and Development of the City

Cities are integral to the modern world - 50% live in them, increasing to 60% in 2050 - however, what is the city? Key concepts of SPACE - how it is laid out

- Various things distinguish a city - UK until 1888 - a cathedral? Legal status conferred? Population? Tangible (does it feel like a city)? Independent culture (L.Monkford - 'a theatre of social lives')? - WHAT CAN THE CITY BE

- PRE INDUSTRIAL - Pre 1850s - there was a separation of the home and industrial factories, where work took place - only two 'typical cities' of London and Paris, rest were sparsely populated, and distinguised by RESIDENCE or NON-RESIDENCE (of monarch) - also, social activities began to emerge, like coffee houses

- INDUSTRIAL - 1850s-1960s - cities became 'zoned'; there was a shopping/business centre, factories on the outskirts, and inner city housing inbewtween - new housing like apartment blocks, tenements - more property markets, and new TRANSPORT to get around the city

- POSTINDUSTRIAL - 1970s - less heavy industry within cities, leaving a run-down inner city, but more technology, finance and services in the economy, as well as GENTRIFICATION to improve - more high density and more CONSUMER CULTURE - but still, greater inequality

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Culture of the City

From INDUSTRIAL PERIOD ONWARDS, there was greater democratisation of high culture in the cities, with the opening of 'royal centres' in places like Berlin, Paris - things like OPERA HOUSES, ART MUSEUMS (like the National Portrait Gallery) - 59 public UK museums 1900

- 'NATIONAL' buildings - this was used to give identity to the city and the building as something people should take pride in - shows how the CITY IS THE BEST, and the same prinicipal applied to municipal building in 2nd cities - like Leeds Town Hall, 1850s

- ARCHITECTURAL STYLE was a focus of the government and philanthropists - wanted to make things look grand to make the city FEEL SPECIAL and give it some form of identity - concentrated on making lives good for the PEOPLE THAT LIVED THERE

- New social activities - rise of simply taking a stroll along the city (Flaneurs) and the rise of LIBERAL ART FORMS - more satirists, more monologues and people went to cabaret; also, rise of the MOVIE THEATRE - 100 in Manchester 1900 - new types of film could be watched

- THE PRESS - this was important in generating an image of the city - more literature for people

- SPORTS - city football/cricket/rugby clubs gave an identity to the city - German SDP support

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Responses to Urban Identities

People looked at the SHIFT TO CITY LIFESTYLE and many reflected and were CRITICAL of what was happening - linked to the rise of MODERNISM and the 'AVANT-GARDE'

- More radical views reflected in art and literature - the city was seen to have brought NEW TROUBLES to the life of an individual - political issue; artists would meet up in cities, discuss the issues, and use these converssations as INSPIRATION FOR THEIR WORK - happened in Paris, German cities, Vienna

- People like Klich and Freud stressed the rise of the DARK AND IRRATIONAL as a result of city life - Freudian conceptions of psychoanalysis were radical and linked to how CITIES had CHANGED PEOPLES MINDS

- London, 1904 - The Bloomsbury Group featuring Virginia Woolfe - questioning the new London and how industrialisation had transformed the city - wrote about her grievances; all this led to a GREATER DIVIDE between rural and urban - RURAL - less connected + isolated, but a sense of FREEDOM - URBAN was vice versa - also, more RURAL-URBAN MIGRATION in the 3rd World - death of the peasant? (Hobsbawm)

- OVERALL - city changed radically both culturally and politically - however, many unsatisfied

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Key Historians/Concepts of Class and Urban Identit

Marx; Hobsbawm; C.Hill; E.P Thompson; Cannadine; Major and Thatcher; Lawrence; Runciman; McKibbin; Middlemas; J.Scott; A.Clarke

L.Monkford; Flaneurism; Klich; Freud; V.Woolfe

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