Post-Fordist Affect and the U.S. Working Class: Politics After America is Gone

Departmental Seminar followed by a food and drinks reception at Fusion and Top Bar

  • Thu 26 Oct - Tue 7 Nov 17


  • Colchester Campus

    Room 6.345

  • Event speaker

    Dr Joseph Varga

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars

  • Event organiser

    Sociology, Department of

  • Contact details

    Sheila Marrinan

Donald Trump attracted working class support for his shocking capture of the U.S. Presidency by promising to Make America Great Again.

In this presentation, I examine the affectual registers and intensities, constructed from the nostalgic longing for post-War labor prosperity (1946-1973) that structured the delivery and reception of this message. How did the lingering vision of labor market security, devastated by successive neoliberal regimes, and by finance capital, inhibit sections of the U.S. working class, and labor union leadership, from adjusting to the changing conditions of globalized capital? How did the changes in labor market structures “unmoor” the political coalitions that held tenuous influence in the Post-Fordist period (1973-2008)? In analyzing three instances of labor union activism in the post-Great Recession economy (2009-2016) in the American Midwest, the presentation explores the erosion of working class political power and its impact on the very nature and direction of the U.S. state.

Joe Varga is Associate Professor of Labor Studies in the Indiana University School of Social Work. He arrived at IU in 2009, after receiving his doctorate in Sociology and MA in Historical Studies from the New School for Social Research in New York City. He has been involved with the labor movement for nearly four decades, as a rank-and-file Teamster activist, shop steward, researcher, and organizer. His first book, Hell’s Kitchen and the Battle for Urban Space, was a study of how workers create spaces of resistance in an urban setting. His current research on precarious labor continues the study of workers and space, with a focus on workers in the de-industrialized regions of the Midwest. He has published scholarly articles on de-industrialization, anti-unionism, and labor precarity in the Midwest, with an emphasis on the Southern Indiana region.

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