Identity and Capitalism
Publication Year: 2015
“This is a splendid book that dispels myths about ‘identity’ and presents a cultural-materialist case for the study of such keywords and their preoccupations under the hegemony of neoliberal capitalism.”
- Professor Jim McGuigan, Loughborough University
‘Identity’, particularly as it is elaborated in the associated categories of ‘personal’ and ‘social’ identity, is a relatively novel concept in western thought, politics and culture. The explosion of interest in the notion of identity across popular, political and academic domains of practice since the 1960s does not represent the simple popularisation of an older term, as is widely assumed, but rather, the invention of an idea.
Identity and Capitalism explores the emergence and evolution of the idea of identity in the cultural, political and social contexts of contemporary capitalist societies. Against ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Identity: The Spirit of the Times?
- Identity Is a New Idea
- Settling the ‘Vexed Question of Identity’
- Introducing Cultural Materialism
- Structure of the Book
- Chapter 1: Historicising ‘Identity’
- Identity: From Absence to Presence
- Identity: A Sign of the Times?
- Identity in Context: A Cultural Materialist Framework for Analysis
- Chapter 2: ‘Identity’: A Keyword Analysis
- Characteristics of a Keyword
- The History of the Word ‘Identity’
- Contemporary Senses of ‘Identity’
- The ‘Legal’ Sense of Identity
- The ‘Personal’ Sense of Identity
- The ‘Social’ Sense of Identity
- Identity and Essence
- Chapter 3: Cultural Materialism and the Social Logic of Capitalism
- Cultural Materialism and the Practical Power of Ideas
- The Social Logic of Capitalism
- The Social Logic of Capitalism in Practice
- The Social Logic of Capitalism in Neoliberal Societies
- Chapter 4: A Pre-History of the Idea of Identity in Capitalist Societies
- Identity Before Identity Politics?
- Science, Nature and the Enlightenment Subject
- Making Sense of Essentialism
- The Modern Subject as the Sociological Self
- The Psychological Self
- Culture and the Appreciation of Difference
- Chapter 5: Identity Politics, Globalising Capitalism and the Crisis of Identity
- The Displacement of Class Politics?
- The Emergence of Identity Politics
- From Identity Politics to the ‘Crisis of Identity’
- Globalising Capitalism and the Threat to Cultural Identity
- The ‘Crisis of Identity’ in Academia
- Chapter 6: Personal Identity in the Consumer Society
- Distinction, Emulation and Fashion: A Short Pre-History of ‘Personal Identity’
- Identity, Consumer Capitalism and the Problems of the ‘Mass Society’
- Beyond the Mass Society? Identity, Counter-Culture and the Rebel Consumer
- Social Identity in the Consumer Society
- Post-Fordism and Postmodern ‘Identity’
- Identity and Corporate Marketing in the Postmodern Society
- ‘Because You're Worth It’: Personal Identity and the Classed Mechanics of Consumer Choice
- Chapter 7: Identity and Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century
- Identity and Anti-Capitalist Resistance in the Consumer Society
- Identity and Anti-Capitalist Resistance in Politics
- Identity in the Evolution of Capitalism: The Consolidation of Neoliberalism
- Strategies for Resistance: Identity as Part of a Global Class-Based, Anti-Capitalist Movement?
- Final Comments
[Page ii]For Mam and Dad
© Marie Moran 2015
First published 2015
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About the Author
There are very many people I want to thank for their help and encouragement in writing this book. First, to those who helped me with the academic nuts and bolts. This book began life as a doctoral thesis, under the patient and careful supervision of John Baker at the UCD School of Social Justice. John's intellectual insights, rigorous feedback and generosity of time and spirit have been an enormous source of help and encouragement to me, and indeed, made this book possible. Thank you John, for your unwavering and continued faith in me, and for setting me on the course I continue today. I want also to thank Jim McGuigan, who has long been an intellectual inspiration of mine, and more recently, a good friend. I have benefited enormously from his active encouragement and stern advice, and take heart from the fact that we are like-minded creatures with a similar admiration for the work of Raymond Williams (though I, apparently, am more ‘prolix’ than Jim, and have a terrible tendency to meddle needlessly with words). Very many thanks to Harry Browne, who supported me enormously through the summer of 2013 in particular, and in the final stages of editing. Reading drafts while on holidays, even, Harry unravelled historical knots, made incisive interventions and spurred me forward. And to Andy Storey – I could not have finished this book without you. In the final weeks, Andy read and commented on every single chapter, with a sharp eye and a sharper pen – confirming, in many cases, Jim's worst suspicions, but rooting them out, so no one else would be subjected to such boring verbosity (that's the dictionary definition, Jim). Thank you Andy, for your huge generosity, support and attention to detail. John, Jim, Harry and Andy, I am truly indebted to all of you.
Many other people have offered great support and assistance to me over the course of writing this book. I want to thank Kathleen Lynch and all the staff and students of Equality Studies, and latterly, the UCD School of Social Justice. In particular, I want to thank Maureen Lyons and Judy Walsh, for their enduring support and much valued friendship. I am also very grateful to Andrew Sayer, for his deeply generous and insightful guidance during my four-month visit to Lancaster University, and for prompting me — mixed metaphors aside — to leave behind postmodernism. In addition, I would like to thank my editors at SAGE, Chris Rojek and Gemma Shields, for the support and encouragement they gave me while writing this book, with special thanks to Gemma for her patient assistance, helpful feedback and unwavering enthusiasm. Special gratitude goes to the crew of Debt Justice Action Ireland and ATTAC Ireland, with whom I worked over the course of writing this book: thank you all for being great friends and inspirational proof of collective, anti-capitalist activism. [Page ix]For other practical and scholarly help when I needed it most, thanks to Conor McCabe, Edel McAteer, Vincent Browne, Gavan Titley, Pilar Villar Argáiz, Theresa O'Keefe, Niamh McCrea and Eoghan McDermott. A special thanks to Eileen Drumm for lending me her house in Cork for two crucial weeks of writing, even though she had never met me.
To my much loved friends, Laura Craig, Lorna Powell, Sinead O'Dwyer and Su O'Mara, thank you for always cheering me up, filling me in, bringing me out and keeping me sane. I would like to give special mention to Keith Darragh, for his ‘motivational’ text messages, emails and phonecalls. I will quite literally never forget them. And to Pete Drumm, thank you for your huge kindness, practical support and for always making me laugh when I most needed to. You are one in a million.
Finally, to my family. Jean, your continual positive reinforcement, encouragement and steadfast faith in me has been a constant source of strength. Brian, thank you for your practical and humorous outlook, your steady support, and the sense of perspective you have given me over the course of this book. Kate, even though as a 15-year-old you probably doubt this, you are a constant source of happiness in my life, and you make me remember the importance of having fun. If you ever come to me in the future for advice on whether or not to write a book, I will most likely, therefore, advise the latter. Dad, thank you for giving me my love of reading, writing and arguing, and a strong belief in social justice. Chapter 2 in particular is for you, as you instilled in me, from a very young age, the power of words — I hope I do you justice. And Mam, thank you for your unconditional love, generosity, sense of fun, but most of all, for your optimism. You helped me to keep going during some tough times, and I will always be grateful.
I would like to acknowledge receipt of the National University of Ireland (NUI) grant towards publication, for which I am very grateful. I would like to thank the editorial board of The Sociological Review, as well as their publishers, Wiley, for permission to reuse extracts from the article ‘Raymond Williams and Sociology’, which appeared first in The Sociological Review, February 2014, 62(1): 167–188. I am also grateful to Jim McGuigan, with whom I co-wrote the article, for allowing me to use these extracts in this volume. Finally, I want to thank Andrew Sayer for allowing me to use some of his wording from an email exchange we had on the merits of Boltanski and Chiapello's concept of a spirit of capitalism, reproduced here in Chapter 3.
[Page x]Be careful when speaking. You create the world around you with your words.
~ Quote attributed to the Navajo storytelling tradition ~
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