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CLASS WITHOUT CONSCIOUSNESS

THE POLITICS OF FRAGMENTED CLASS IDENTITIES

Image:Diego Rivera: Pan American Unity Mural (detail), copyright license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Pogramme

In the crisis of neoliberal globalization, the socio-structural bases of political conflict are returning to the top of the agenda. Surges of the populist right relied on winning over segments of the working class to an anti-immigration coalition. At the same time, a socialist ‘class left’, often spearheaded by young, precarious segments of the new middle class, has been showing signs of a revival. Amidst a secular decline of union power, strategies of rank-and-file organizing at times proved successful in uniting workers across ethnic and other divides. And in countries hit by the 2008 crisis, contention over austerity politics and precarity gave rise to cross-class alliances in the electoral and protest arenas. Pronouncements of a ‘death of class’ made in the 1990s today seem questionable at best.

Yet the prominence of class vocabulary had not only waned in social science research, but also in public discourses and the self-understandings of many wage dependent people. While rising inequalities, the power of capital over labor, and austerity politics create new distributional conflicts, divisions between different segments of working people – by education and skills, occupation, sector, ethnicity and citizenship, geographic location, precarity, gender, and age – proliferate positions within the class structure, fragment it and render it opaque in everyday life. This creates a contradictory moment in which the increasing prevalence of class inequality coincides with exceptionally weak class identities: “Class without consciousness” (J.Stacul).

The conference wants to provide an academic forum for discussing the dynamic, contradictory, and often hidden politics of class identity in an age of rising inequality and opaque class structures. In particular, we are interested in the following themes:

  • How does the fragmentation and demobilization of class identities help understand right-wing populism and the relative weakness of left-wing social blocs across the West? How are class identities mobilized and reshaped in alliances on the radical right?
  • How does the partial eclipse of the class cleavage by a new cleavage over migration and national closure play out at the level of identities?
  • Where do we see the persistence of a sense of class relations in other forms of identity discourse, such as those of national belonging, moral boundaries, populism, or ‘citizenism’? What new forms of class consciousness are emerging?
  • Do experiences of precarity obstruct or rekindle the formation of class consciousness?
  • How are class identities de- and repoliticized at intersections with other forms of social organization, distinction and domination, such as ethnicity, gender, and sexuality?
  • Which identities can progressive class alliances between workers and parts of the middle class appeal to? Which misunderstandings should be avoided?

Local Organizers

  • Donatella Della Porta, Scuola Normale Superiore
  • Linus Westheuser, Scuola Normale Superiore

 

Keynote Speakers

  • Donatella della Porta, Scuola Normale Superiore
  • Klaus Dörre, University of Jena
  • Don Kalb, University of Bergen and University of Utrecht

Presenters

  • Oluwatobiloba Adeleke (Humboldt-University Berlin)
  • Sabrina Apicella (Leuphana University Lüneburg)
  • Macarena Ares (University of Zurich)
  • Amélie Beaumont (Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne)
  • Linda Beck (Free University Berlin)
  • Niccolò Bertuzzi  (Scuola Normale Superiore)
  • Giorgos Bithymitris (National Centre for Social Research, Athens)
  • Simon Bornschier (University of Zurich)
  • Stephen Campbell (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
  • Loris Caruso (Scuola Normale Superiore)
  • Dražen Cepić (University of Zadar)
  • Raphael Challier (Paris VIII - Cresspa)
  • Lorenzo Cini (Scuola Normale Superiore)
  • Céline Colombo (University of Zurich)
  • Alina-Sandra Cucu (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
  • Koen Damhuis (University of Utrecht)
  • Ivaylo Dinev (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa)
  • Danijela Dolenec (University of Zagreb)
  • Karin Doolan (University of Zadar)
  • Magne P. Flemmen (University of Oslo)
  • Peter N. Funke (University of South Florida)
  • Marie C. Grasmeier (University of Bremen)
  • Silja Häusermann  (University of Zurich) 
  • Anders Hylmö (Lund University)
  • Stefanie Hürtgen (University of Salzburg)
  • René Kluge (Free University Berlin)
  • Loukia Kotronaki  (Pantheion University Athens)
  • Siresa López Berengueres (Sciences Po Paris)
  • Maria del Carmen Mayer (University of Bielefeld)
  • Angelo Moro (University of Burgundy Franche-Comté)
  • Teresa Pullano (University of Basel)
  • Ayse Sargin (University of Essex)
  • Gabor Scheiring (Università Bocconi)
  • Stefan Schmalz (University of Jena)
  • Seraphim Seferiadis (Pantheion University Athens)
  • Brandon Sommer (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
  • Christoph Sorg (New York University)
  • Alexis Spire (CNRS, Paris)
  • Jaro Stacul (University of Newfoundland)
  • Marta Tonetta (University of Turin)
  • Sarah Uhlmann (Humboldt-University Berlin)
  • Paulus Wagner (Sciences Po Paris)
  • Hadas Weiss (Madrid Institute for Advanced Study)
  • Magnus Wennerhag (Södertörn University)
  • Linus Westheuser (Scuola Normale Superiore)
  • Christopher Wimmer (Humboldt University Berlin)
  • Todd Wolfson (Rutgers University)
  • Delia Zollinger (University of Zurich)
  • Najate Zouggari (University of Lausanne)