Capitalism, classes and citizenship
DOI link for Capitalism, classes and citizenship
Capitalism, classes and citizenship book
It has often been observed that academics rarely solve problems; they become bored with them and then move on to different issues. Issues do not get satisfactory solutions; they are merely abandoned or recycled. There is a strong sense of boredom with the classical debate regarding the existence and nature of social classes. Furthermore, because sociology is often deeply implicated in the social processes it seeks to describe and to understand, it has been profoundly exposed to and shaped by cultural fashions and changes in the intellectual climate. As we argued in the introduction, the assertion of a clear division between the negative social consequences of a capitalist system and the positive benefits of socialism and organised communism was an important feature of class critiques of capitalism. The relationship between sociology and the May Events of 1968 is well known (Lyotard 1988, Plant 1992). The Thatcher period, the presidency of Reagan and the decline of communism have all had a significant impact on the academic analysis of social class and the welfare state. And with the collapse of communism, a reticence about the explicit value of socialist theory has often been combined with a post-modern critique of grand narratives such as Marxism (Lyotard 1984 and 1988). Given Marx's pronouncements on the death of religion in the nineteenth century, the irony is that with the disappearance of communism many writers now see Islam as the only significant challenge to Western capitalist traditions, and it is not surprising therefore that the contemporary role of Islam is often debated in the context of post-modern culture (Ahmed 1992, Gellner 1992, Turner 1994a). The simple dichotomy between capitalism and communism has been complicated by the robust growth internationally of various forms of fundamentalism, of which Islamic revivalism is a leading example. The rise and fall of class analysis is thus a perfect example of the exposure of sociology and social theory to fashions within the intellectual market place.