Coronavirus, class and mutual aid in the United Kingdom

Jointly hosted by Centre for Criminology and The Department of Sociology

  • Thu 3 Dec 20

    16:00 - 17:00

  • Online


  • Event speaker

    Professor John Preston and Dr Rhiannon Firth

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Centre for Criminology and Department of Sociology

  • Event organiser

    Sociology, Department of

  • Contact details

    Dr Anna Di Ronco

Join the Centre for Criminology and Department of Sociology for an insightful online seminar with Professor John Preston and Senior Research Officer, Dr Rhiannon Firth.

John Preston is Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex and an ESRC (PaCCS: Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security) Leadership Fellow. His latest book is Grenfell Tower: Preparedness, Race and Disaster Capitalism (Palgrave, 2019)

Rhiannon Firth is Senior Research Officer in Sociology at the University of Essex on the EPSRC-funded project: Chatty Factories: New Industrial Systems in Manufacturing. Her research interests also include anarchist utopias, social movements and mutual aid. She is author of Utopian Politics (Routledge 2012); Coronavirus, Class and Mutual Aid in the UK (with John Preston, Palgrave, forthcoming 2020) and Disaster Anarchism (forthcoming, Pluto Press, 2021).

This seminar will introduce the forthcoming book. It considers the COVID-19 pandemic through a case study of how the United Kingdom government prepared the population in the first wave of the pandemic in 2020. The framework is a critical analysis, influenced by Marxism, Anarchism, class theory, social movement analysis and critical analysis of preparedness. The argument is that capitalism creates and maintains capital at a multitude of scales, including the viral, and that COVID-19, and its material and discursive consequences, are an active part of continuing class struggle and class interpolation. The UK’s behavioural science COM-B model, and plans for quarantine, are analysed as classed practices. 

We also look at alternatives to neo-liberal methods of dealing with the pandemic by either marketisation, disaster capitalism or a strengthening of the State. Alternatives around social movements and mutual aid are suggested from an anarchist perspective. Although these are always subject to co-option by state authorities, we suggest new ways forward for mutual aid in the current pandemic crisis. 

This seminar will be chaired by Dr Darren Thiel.

This seminar is part of an online open seminar series, hosted by the Centre for Criminology

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