Can the Working Class Still Make History? An Inquiry into Class Agency

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dc.contributor.advisor Cremin, Ciara Sachs, Justine 2021-09-08T02:35:25Z 2021-09-08T02:35:25Z 2021 en
dc.description.abstract This thesis asks whether the working class can still make history. The historical agent of Marxist literature is conspicuously absent from the contemporary political terrain. At the same time, the need for an agent of transformation is acute, with what Adorno and Horkheimer viewed as the negative potential of capitalist development to regress into barbarism and irrationality more evident than ever. Crisis is now endemic. Capitalism’s growth imperative which compels the capitalist class to attempt to accumulate infinitely on a finite planet has driven us onto a trajectory of climate catastrophe. The Great Recession of 2008 – one result of neoliberal capitalism’s accelerating contradictions – has created a crisis of legitimacy for the dominant economic system and has engendered social and political instability. While neoliberal capitalism has endured, it has entered a post-hegemonic phase. In this thesis, I will explore these recent events using E.P Thompson’s concept of workin class agency in history. For Thompson, class is an active process, something that is made in human relationships. I will argue that the resilience of neoliberalism is a result of the destruction of working class agency in the 1970s by the neoliberal project. The legacy of this defeat casts a shadow over the contemporary Left, preventing it from organising itself as a collective agent capable of challenging capitalism at this critical juncture. However, I will demonstrate that despite these great difficulties, the working class remains a historical agent of social transformation – it has been demoted but not fired from history. I will look to the history of working class agency, its victories and its defeats, with the aim of rescuing lost causes, yielding insights into the social evils we have yet to vanquish.
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof Masters Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA en
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dc.title Can the Working Class Still Make History? An Inquiry into Class Agency
dc.type Thesis en Sociology The University of Auckland en Masters en 2021-07-12T03:05:10Z
dc.rights.holder Copyright: the author en
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