Class analysis for whom? An alien-ated view of London
In a valuable and engaging critique, Hamnett and Butler conclude that our analysis of the socio-spatial dimensions of inequality in London originates from a 'parallel universe', that it is 'bizarre' for us 'middle-class university professors' to claim that 'the middle class does not exist,' and that our approach involves 'looking into the rear view mirror or class structure in the 1840s.' In this paper we provide a response, and we reiterate the urgent need for class-conscious politics and method in contemporary urban research. Dominant narratives of postindustrial transnational urbanism tend to erase any concern for class conflict, as old occupational structures that once closely reflected locally-observable relations of production are replaced by a much more intricate and respatialized occupational matrix of positions that (when analysed in conventional ways) creates an aspirational mirage of utopian middle-class opportunity. Yet the materialist conditions of capitalist urbanization intensify class antagonisms, while polarizing social relations within domains typically understood as 'middle-class' (including the professoriate). At the same time, the Right has hijacked traditional Left commitments to radical openness to difference and contingency, thus diverting critical energies away from fundamental challenges to class inequality into the safer technocratic territory of managing inequalities with a creative, de-classified menu of friendly-sounding policies of inclusion, mixing, tolerance, and social sustainability. One way to challenge this dangerous trend involves a fusion of multivariate quantitative analysis with contemporary critical social theory (drawing on Žižek and others) to account for the new multidimensional relations of postindustrial occupational structures within the increasingly severe class antagonisms of capitalist urbanization. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Davidson, Mark and Wyly, Elvin, "Class analysis for whom? An alien-ated view of London" (2013). Geography. 113.