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Social class

Walkerdine, Valerie ORCID: 2022. Social class. Frosh, Stephen, Vyrgioti, Marita and Walsh, Julie, eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Psychosocial Studies, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1-22. (10.1007/978-3-030-61510-9_18-1)

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In “The future of an illusion” (1927), Freud writes about the defense of civilization through instinctual renunciation, a task so difficult for the “masses,” who lack both education and the will, given that they have done so much work to build civilization but have little access to its rewards. He points towards an educational pathway that might lead such masses to the possibility of reason. This approach has dominated modes of population management through liberalism to neoliberalism. That the “masses” are taken to be dominated by instinct and lack intellectual ability is a position that still haunts debates about class today. In contrast, Althusserian (1971) theory marshaled an account of ideology inspired by Lacan in the context of what is often considered as the failure of workers to join students after the May 68 uprisings. This chapter discusses what a psychosocial approach to class might look like, methodologically and theoretically, including a discussion of the absence of any serious consideration of the middle and upper classes from most work on class in this field. In this vein, it also discusses classism. Moving from the consequences of Freud’s (The future of an illusion. London, Hogarth Press, 1927) position, the chapter considers the difficulties and possibilities for working psychosocially on class. It also considers a tradition of work on what we might now term psychosocial research in this area, from Lilian Rubin’s (1976) Worlds of Pain and Sennett and Cobb’s (1973) Hidden Injuries of Class to more recent work in the field, often undertaken by working class academics. Working through research which began in the 1960s through to the present day, the chapter also considers work on deindustrialization, intergenerational transmission, and the importance of Deleuze and Guattari for an understanding of classed territory. Moving towards a future with even less secure employment than the present of neoliberalism, it considers the significance of exploring psychosocially the new relational dynamics of class.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN: 9783030615109
ISSN: 978-3-030-61510-9
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 September 2022
Date of Acceptance: 25 May 2022
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2024 13:14

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