Rethinking Class

New School for Social Research: Philosophy

Liberal Arts
Graduate Course
Majors Only
Rethinking Class
Spring 2023
Taught By: Nancy Fraser
Section: A

CRN: 13641

Credits: 3

The concept of class has had its ups and downs. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, it was widely viewed by leftists as the central fault line of capitalist societies, even as they debated how best to conceive it and how best to understand its relation to other politicized divides. Subsequently, however, class lost much of its conceptual cachet. The increased centrality of post-New Left struggles over gender, race, and empire brought suspicions of “class essentialism” and “class reductionism,” while neoliberalism weakened traditional labor radicalism and labor unions. By the end of the 20th century, “class theory” was widely neglected if not despised. Today, however, the fortunes of the category are on the rise again. With renewed interest in “capitalism” and “socialism” comes revived interest in “class”–both in orthodox and unorthodox guises. It's an opportune moment, therefore, to revisit class. In this seminar, we shall canvas major theoretical and practical debates surrounding this concept–both historical and contemporary. We’ll reconsider, for example, the relative merits of “structural” definitions of class, as a relation to the means of production, versus “cultural-political” definitions of class, as something “made” by social actors–as well as the related distinction between “class-in-itself” and “class-for-itself.” We’ll also revisit attempts to theorize “intermediate classes” and “sub”-proletarian strata, as well as various “new class” theories. Likewise, we’ll take up current debates over class as one among several ‘intersecting” or “interlocking systems of oppression.” Finally, we’ll evaluate my own recent proposal to develop a new “expanded” conception of class, based on an expanded view of capitalism and an expanded view of what counts as work. When finalized, the list of readings will likely include such thinkers as Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, W.E.B. Du Bois, Nicos Poulantzas, E.P. Thompson, Joan W. Scott, Louis Althusser, Carolyn Steedman, Erik Olin Wright, Pierre Bourdieu, Cedric Robinson, Iris Marion Young, David Roediger, William Sewell Jr, Charles Mills, Lise Vogel, Ashley Bohrer, and me.

College: New School for Social Research (GF)

Department: Philosophy (GPHI)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: In-Person

Max Enrollment: 9

Add/Drop Deadline: February 5, 2023 (Sunday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: April 16, 2023 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Closed*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 1:24am EDT 9/28/2023

Meeting Info:
Days: Wednesday
Times: 6:00pm - 7:50pm
Building: Parsons 2 W 13th
Room: 704
Date Range: 1/25/2023 - 5/10/2023