Class Composition, Labour's Strategy and the Politics of Work



Thompson P, Pitts FH, Ingold J & Cruddas J (2022) Class Composition, Labour's Strategy and the Politics of Work. Political Quarterly, 93 (1), pp. 142-149.

This article locates the emergence of new thinking on the left around work, age and assets within the lineage of ‘class composition’ analysis arising from the autonomist movement in mid-twentieth century Italy. With reference to contemporary debates around electoral and political strategy within the Labour Party, the article critically appraises the potential applicability of this extra-parliamentary ‘militant methodology’ for the present day identification of ontologically and epistemologically privileged class actors and political subjects in a first past the post parliamentary system. Noting the resemblance of such approaches to the orthodox Marxist ‘gravedigger thesis’, which reads off from economic relations the existence of agents of social transformation, the article argues that this analytical and strategic framing represents a flawed approach for Labour and the wider left. Other approaches are needed to navigate successfully the pluralist construction of consent through coalition building and compromise on which parliamentary politics rests.

Labour Party; class; work; political economy; British politics; electoral strategy

Political Quarterly: Volume 93, Issue 1

Publication date31/03/2022
Publication date online29/12/2021
Date accepted by journal29/12/2021

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Professor Paul Thompson

Professor Paul Thompson

Emeritus Professor, Management, Work and Organisation