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Class Matters

Class Matters

Inequality and Exploitation in 21st Century Britain

Charles Umney

How class is structured in the call-centres, office blocks and fast-food chains of modern Britain.
Social class remains a fundamental presence in British life in the twenty-first century. It is woven into the very fabric of social and political discourse, undiminished by the end of mass industry; unaugmented despite the ascendancy of 'ordinary working people' and other substitute phrases. Absent from this landscape, however, is any compelling Marxist expression or analysis of class.

In Class Matters, Charles Umney brings Marxist analysis out of the 19th century textiles mill, and into the call centres, office blocks and fast food chains of modern Britain. He shows how core Marxist concepts are vital to understanding increasing pay inequality, decreasing job security, increasing routinisation and managerial control of the labour process.

Providing a critical analysis of competing perspectives, Umney argues that class must be understood as a dynamic and exploitative process integral to capitalism - rather than a descriptive categorisation - in order for us to better understand the gains capital has made at the expense of labour over the last four decades.

Charles Umney is a Lecturer at the University of Leeds. He teaches, researches and writes on the subjects of trade unionism, working conditions and employment policy across Europe, and has also published extensively on the topic of working life in live music. He is the author of Class Matters (Pluto, 2018).

'A sophisticated answer to impoverished sociologies and cheap media cliches ... A sharp and deeply necessary book' - Richard Seymour, author of Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics (Verso, 2017). 'Charles Umney presents a powerful and nuanced alternative narrative driven by Marxist political economy. With a keen eye for irony, paradox, and the absurd, he analyses work, politics, and technology in capitalist societies. This is a witty and wise antidote to the mainstream diagnoses of our times' - Professor Ian Greer, Cornell University 'By reinstating the importance of Marxist analysis for understanding the relationship between class and social inequality in 21st century Britain, Charles Umney has written a highly cogent and perspicacious account of the formation of contemporary inequality and exploitation... a vital source' - Professor Paul Stewart, former editor of Work, Employment and Society 'A highly accessible presentation of the transformation of the British economy over the last four decades and the problems facing Britain today. Umney vividly demonstrates the acute relevance of Marxist class analysis for understanding work, government, economics and politics in 21st century capitalism' - Dr Matt Vidal, Loughborough University London

List of Figures
List of Tables
Acknowledgements
Introduction
The Rest of the Book
1. The ‘Economy that Works for Everyone’
Platitudes
Class Since the Financial Crisis
Class and Classification in Academia
2. Alien Powers: Class in Marxist Thought
Conflict in the Workplace
Dependency and Discipline
Subordination of the Individual
Alien Powers and Loss of Control
Beyond Production
3. Changing Class Dynamics in Britain
Introduction
Inequality and the Balance of Class Power in Britain
Financialisation, Capital and Class Discipline
Labour Discipline and ‘Precarity’
Conclusion
4. Jobs
Workplace Control
Conflict, Resistance and Class Power
5. Government
Adequate Forms and Alien Powers
Public Services and Capital
Blood Sacrifices to Alien Powers
6. Class and Equality
Class, ‘Identity Politics’ and Cosmopolitans
Marxism and Feminism
Equality and Capital
Capital and Immigration
7. Technology
The Means of Evaluation
Capitalism and the Wasting of Resources
8. Media and Ideology
Common Sense
The News Media
Marxist Views on Ideology
9. Conclusion
Summary
Capital and the Future
Final Thoughts: Britain after the 2017 General Election
Notes
Index

Published by Pluto Press in May 2018
Paperback ISBN: 9780745337081
Hardcover ISBN: 9780745337098
eBook ISBN: 9781786802460

224 pages

135mm x 215mm