Class, Space, and Community

Workshop conference in Durham, UK

Workshop Conference
6-8 April 2001
University of Durham, United Kingdom

Plenary Speakers: John Russo and Sherry Linkon, Centre for Working Class Studies, Youngstown State University, Ohio USA

The overarching theme of this inter-disciplinary workshop conference can be summarized in this question: what are the cultural implications for people whose community identities have been founded around industrialism if the elimination of the traditional industrial bases of their localities and regions with particular reference to the understanding of social exclusion? Social exclusion is usually defined as including 'cultural exclusion', but by that is meant separation of people from the cultural norms and practices of general society, often interpreted in terms of 'high' and 'academic' culture. We want to consider whether industrial cultures were resources developed both as the basis of survival, and, within the traditions of organized labour, as versions of possible alternative futures, noting that these collective projects had as much to do with social reproduction in the home and community as with work itself. The apparent triumph of globalized liberal flexible consumer capitalism implies that such cultures are irrelevant and redundant. 'Cultural' industry development, as a regeneration strategy, usually works through the imposition of a globalized and general culture in place of 'glocalized' industrial cultures - specific local responses to the general conditions of industrial life. We note that such regeneration programmes ignore the way in which anthropologists working in third world cities have identified 'distinctive culture' as a resource for personal and communal survival. We are thinking here of Lewis' original formulation of the idea of culture of poverty, , and Wikan's use of Barth's general conception of culture as a resource. 'Excluded people' are often identified as having a cultural problem. The notion that they might have historically founded cultural resources on which to draw is seldom considered. We want to consider it.

We want to emphasize the inter-disciplinary character of this project. We hope that anthropologists, sociologists, historians, people working in cultural studies, and people working in the political economy tradition will be interested in participating.

Possible Sub-Themes

  1. The idea of industrial culture in postindustrial age
  2. Cultural forms in postindustrial industrial society - issues of gender, ethnicity and age
  3. Class and Community: social movements or the last gasp of class politics?
  4. The implications of global culture for glocal industrial cultures in postindustrial society
  5. Recasting local images - the implications for glocal industrial culture

The format of this conference will be workshop with numbers limited to thirty participants all of whom will present a short paper. There will eight half price places for research students (i.e. half of accommodation costs) and no conference fee for any participants. Accommodation in a Durham College will be available for those who require it for approx. £375 full board for the duration of the workshop We hope to generate at least one publication and develop a long term programme of working class studies as an interdisciplinary project in the UK and beyond.

Abstracts are invited from anyone interested. The abstract of not more than 500 words should be sent to both:

by the 30th November 2000.

David Byrne
Dept of Sociology and Social Policy
University of Durham
Durham DH1 3JT
0191-374-4743 (fax)

Posted: 18 September 2000