Proletariat to Precariat?

Editors Note: This is an archived blog post from 20/9/2011.

Proletariat to Precariat? Working-class politics, identities and socio-spatial change in Britain from the Great Depression to the ‘Big Society’

Friday, 14 October 2011 09.45- 16:15

University of Manchester

As the coalition government oversees the biggest transfer of wealth from ordinary people to the very richest in living memory, questions of class, space and inequality ought to be at the forefront of contemporary research. Government cuts will hit the poorest sections of society hardest, deepening socio-spatial inequalities, while politicians while politicians struggle to formulate convincing analyses of either the causes of or solutions to a summer of unrest in some of Britain’s major cities. The last 30 years of neo-liberal hegemony have witnessed the de-industrialisation of Britain; a precipitous decline in skilled manual work; the gentrification of urban neighbourhoods and the residualisation of council estates. The shift from manufacturing to services has been accompanied by a significant increase in non-manual work while ‘traditional’ patterns of employment have been transformed by flexiblisation and the rise of precarious work.

This interdisciplinary CRESC workshop brings together researchers across the social sciences and humanities to test the robustness of class identifications in the face of the economic and political changes outlined above and question what this implies for policy narratives like ‘the Big Society? In particular, what role does the spatialisation of inequality play in understanding class formation, fragmentation and relations; in the construction of social identities and the articulation of belonging; in the experience and memory of displacement, migration and de-industrialisation and in the potential for a renewed class-based politics?

Speakers include: Michael Bailey, Kirsteen Paton, Douglas Robertson, Ben Rogaly, Mike Savage and John K. Walton

To register for this event, please contact

Places are limited and successful registration will be based on a first-come, first-served basis.

This workshop is the first in a planned series that will address the following themes:

Changing places – gentrification, privatisation, residualisation and ‘regeneration’

Mapping lifestyles, mapping classes?

Remembering working-class cultures

Class politics, belonging and social change

For further information contact Ben Jones ( or Andrew Miles (



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