The new anthropology of class: relations of place, experience and (dis)possessions
Jeremy Morris (Aarhus University)
Norbert Petrovici (Babes-Bolyai University)
Ivan Rajković (University of Vienna)
Horsal 4 (B4)
Wednesday 15 August, 9:00-10:45, 11:15-13:00 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

This panel invites holistic, relational engagements with class, which treat it as a distinct mode of differentiation, suffering and contention, as well as the key social container of experience, productive capacities and value-worlds within contemporary capitalism.

Long abstract:

This panel invites a relational and spatial approach to class, labour and (dis)possession to understand how shifting social formations are both dismantled and reassembled anew. This requires engagement with both the fixity and mobility of social class in the present global moment of uncertainty. Class perspectives in anthropology have never been more relevant because of simultaneous processes where populations are both 'fixed' in place, and mobilised according to the logics of transnational capitalism. Researchers use myriad labels to code both haves and have-nots: the 'global working-class', the 'upwardly mobile', 'surplus populations', the 'urban poor', 'creatives', the 'multitude', the '1%', the 'precariat' and the 'projectariat' - but the point is that class forms as a relational category of analysis: a 'multiply refracted gestalt' (Comaroff and Comaroff 2000).

We encourage participants to reflect on three related aspects:

1. Precarisation and (dis)possession as relational. How do different categories ('casual worker', 'unemployed', 'self-employed', 'freelancer' etc.) emerge relationally, and within embedded hierarchies of social reproduction shaped by gender, age, education, ethnicity, citizenship, religion?

2. Class as a spatially embedded. How does class form as attachment/detachment to/from specific places? E.g. communities undergoing de/reindustrialization, migration, upward/downward social mobility, foreign management, changes in tempo of exploitation.

3. The role of work in shaping class experiences. How do work relations operate as distinct phenomenologies of experience and value - as embodied dispositions, shaping different 'conducts of productivity' (Bear 2015), simultaneously dispossessing and empowering (Lamont 2000), and shaping affects of both endurance and demoralization?