Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Social Identity and Class Consciousness

Hanappi, Hardy and Hanappi-Egger, Edeltraud (2014): Social Identity and Class Consciousness.

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Abstract

The current economic crisis proves how deep the contradictions inherent in contemporary capitalism really are. At the same time it is evident that the financial crisis goes hand in hand with a social crisis, since an increasing number of people lost trust in governments, trade unions and other representative institutions. A main reason why the European Left nevertheless faces severe challenges in attracting supporters seems to be an experienced loss of what has been called ‘working class identity’ in earlier times. This development has been fuelled by the continuing debate on “identity constructions” as proposed e.g. by post-modernist scholars referring to “fluid” and ambiguous concepts of identity and strictly denying any social categorization. So there is a gap between the loss of working class identity on one hand and the focus on merely social identities on the other hand. To bridge this gap the two trajectories have to be linked. Thus, it is proposed to reflect the whole discussion on “working class identity” in the light of exploitation referring to classical political economy, but additionally to integrate social identity constructions by reviving the concept of alienation.

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