“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 the common supposition that identity always mattered, this book shows that what we now think of routinely as ‘personal identity’ actually only emerged with the explosion of consumption in the late-twentieth century. It also makes the case that what we now think of as different social and political ‘identities’ only came to be framed as such with the emergence of identity politics and new social movements in the political landscapes of capitalist societies in the 60s and 70s.
Marie Moran provides an important new exploration of the articulation of the idea of identity to the social logic of capitalism, from the ‘organised capitalism’ of the mid-twentieth century, up to and including the neoliberal capitalism that prevails today. Drawing on the work of Raymond Williams, the cultural materialist approach developed here provides an original means of addressing the political debates about the value of identity in contemporary capitalist societies.
- 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