Restructuring the English Working Class for Global Competitiveness

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Nunn, A (2008)

This paper considers the latest developments in an ongoing attempt to restructure the English working class. It divides this project into two distinct phases. The first is associated with destructive policies to undermine the political, social and institutional structures of the working class embedded in the post- War social democratic and compromise. The paper then goes on to show how New Labour initially sought to rebuild the working class in the image of global competitiveness, at the outset of the second phase to restructure the English working class. The paper argues that the present moment in policy development represents a watershed in this second-phase. The aim now is to contain and overcome some of the contradictions thrown up by New Labour’s early policies and to raise the raise the workforce in terms of its position in the Global Division of Labour. To do so, there is a need to move up those sections of the working class currently working in, and competing for, low-value and low paid ‘entry-level’ work, in order to create space for largely inactive elements of the latent workforce to move into. The project is pre-figured by a wholesale acceptance of the politics of global competitiveness. The discussion is undertaken via an analysis of three key sets of policy documents associated with the Harker Review of Child Poverty, the Leitch Review of Skills and the Freud Review of Welfare.
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