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Class identity and protest

Paul Le Blanc

Subject History » Political History
Legal and Political » Political Philosophy

Place World

Period 2000 - present
1000 - 1999 » 1700-1799, 1800-1899, 1900-1999

People Marx, Karl

Key-Topics inequality, labor, revolution, strikes

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00361.x


In seeking to understand the actualities and possibilities of social protest and revolution, scholars and activists have often sought to comprehend what force would be capable of bringing about fundamental social change. This is related to notions of power, exploitation, and oppression in society. Revolutions are generally seen as bringing about, through the active participation of masses of people, the overturn of established ruling groups and the creation of a new political and social order. How people actually see or identify themselves as they engage in social struggles, and the identities they seek to build on or to foster in order to bring about social change, are of central importance for the unfolding of any revolutionary process. The examination of such matters of identity is important for those wishing to understand such processes. Among the most potent identities in modern revolutionary movements has been that of class. The term “class” has had various meanings, but the modern usage often refers to differences of wealth and power in society. While the notion of class in this sense was highlighted by social theorists of the nineteenth century, most notably by Karl Marx and his co-thinkers, its usage has been traced back to the eighteenth century. Daniel Defoe, commenting on the evolving market economy in Britain, wrote in 1705 that “the dearness of wages forms our people ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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