Soundings

76: Goodbye 2020

Soundings offers committed, informed and thoughtful writing on a wide range of contemporary political and cultural debates. Founded twenty years ago by Stuart HallDoreen Massey and Michael Rustin, its current editor is Sally Davison.

‘Willing to ask the biggest questions, but always rooted in the here and now: it’s a vital link between the tradition of progressive thought in Britain and the futures which all of us are working for’. Jeremy Gilbert

‘That rare forum which brings together critical thought and transformative action – always in informed and stimulating ways.’ Priya Gopal

‘…nourishes public intellectual space – without it our public culture would be diminished.’ Tariq Modood

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76: Goodbye 2020

December 2020

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75: System change

September 2020

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70: Telling political stories

January 2018

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Soundings 67: Ways of resisting

December 2017

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Soundings 64: Critical times

January 2017

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Soundings 61: Catch the tide

November 2015

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Soundings 59: Dare to win

March 2015

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Soundings 58: Dialogue and memory

December 2014

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Soundings 57: Spaces of debate

August 2014

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Soundings 53: Where next?

April 2013

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Soundings 46: The Good Society

December 2010

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Soundings 45: Eye of the Storm

August 2010

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Soundings 43: Business as usual

December 2009

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Soundings 41: Recession Blues

April 2009

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Soundings 40: End of an Era

December 2008

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Soundings 37: Tales of the city

January 2008

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Soundings 35: Left Futures

April 2007

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Soundings 34: Ecowars

November 2006

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Soundings 32: Bare Life

April 2006

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Soundings 31: Opportunity Knocks

December 2005

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Soundings 30: Living Well

August 2005

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Soundings 29: After Identity

April 2005

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Soundings 28: Frontier Marlets

December 2004

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Soundings 27: Public Life

August 2004

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76: Goodbye 2020

December 2020

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75: System change

September 2020

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70: Telling political stories

January 2018

£10.00

Soundings 67: Ways of resisting

December 2017

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Soundings 64: Critical times

January 2017

£10.00

Soundings 61: Catch the tide

November 2015

£10.00

Soundings 59: Dare to win

March 2015

£10.00

Soundings 58: Dialogue and memory

December 2014

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Soundings 57: Spaces of debate

August 2014

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Soundings 53: Where next?

April 2013

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Soundings 46: The Good Society

December 2010

£10.00

Soundings 45: Eye of the Storm

August 2010

£10.00

Soundings 43: Business as usual

December 2009

£10.00

Soundings 41: Recession Blues

April 2009

£10.00

Soundings 40: End of an Era

December 2008

£10.00

Soundings 37: Tales of the city

January 2008

£10.00

Soundings 35: Left Futures

April 2007

£10.00

Soundings 34: Ecowars

November 2006

£10.00

Soundings 32: Bare Life

April 2006

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Soundings 31: Opportunity Knocks

December 2005

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Soundings 30: Living Well

August 2005

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Soundings 29: After Identity

April 2005

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Soundings 28: Frontier Marlets

December 2004

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Soundings 27: Public Life

August 2004

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Soundings 25: Rocky Times

November 2003

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Soundings 24: A Market State

September 2003

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Soundings 22: Fears and Hopes

February 2003

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Soundings 21: Monsters and Morals

November 2002

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Soundings 9: European Left

January 8000

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Editorial (Soundings 74, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

Editors Jo Littler, David Featherstone and Sally Davison introduce issue 74 of Soundings. 

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Municipalism and feminism then and now (Soundings 74, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

Hilary Wainwright talks to Jo Littler. 

Hilary Wainwright discusses municipalism and its relationship to feminism, past and present. She discusses how the women’s liberation movement and in particular its creation of collective childcare produced a form of prefigurative politics which also opened up the possibilities of women being more active. She also discusses her involvement in the Greater London Council in the 1980s and its particular form of municipal politics, which included empowering communities, supporting cooperatives, an alternative industrial strategy and a progressive procurement policy. All these examples of ‘power as transformative capacity’ rather than ‘power-over’, are related to contemporary forms of municipalism, from Preston to Barcelona, and point to the necessity of local government as a necessary space of engagement in the wake of the 2020 general election.

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A missing municipalist legacy: the GLC and the changing cultural politics of Southbank Centre (Soundings 74, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

The Southbank Centre tends to minimise its inheritance from the GLC - reflecting a wider practice of silencing alternatives to neoliberalism.

This article analyses key moments in the cultural history of Southbank Centre and focuses on two important legacies, one which is widely celebrated and the other marginalised. It discusses the 1951 Festival of Britain and the ways in which this heritage permeates recent and current working practices at Southbank Centre, and compares this to the mostly silenced legacy of the policies of Ken Livingstone’s GLC towards participatory arts and accessible public space. Drawing on a wide range of interviews, it argues that Livingstone’s GLC’s radical arts policies and high profile funding galvanised participatory arts at Southbank Centre, and the launch of the Open Foyer Policy in 1983 promoted democratic access to the site. This historical example of the potential of municipalism is mostly missing from discourses of cultural workers for Southbank Centre today. The prevailing silence on this period of municipal socialism is part of a wider silencing of alternatives to neoliberal capitalism.

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Adapting to the political moment and diverse terrain of ‘Actually Existing Municipalisms’ (Soundings 74, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

Tried and trusted forms of municipalism will continue to play an important role in any new municipal alliances. 

This article engages constructively with the ‘new municipalism’, while cautioning against imposing another set of top-down elite imperatives on ‘left behind places’. It also points out that local does not necessarily mean progressive, citing the example of Tees Valley’s Conservative mayor Ben Houchen. As an alternative, it draws upon positive experiences from the recent global remunicipalisation trend, and highlights the importance of working with ‘actually existing’ municipalisms on the ground, focusing in particular on Germany, where there remains a strong public ethos, and commitment to öffentliche Daseinsvorsorge - ‘public (well-)being provision’. It takes Darmstadt as a specific example, and looks at its city economic strategy - Stadtwirtschaftsstrategie. It concludes that productive coalitions and new alliances for a renewed left municipalism can be built through working with continuing, new and diverse forms of municipal values and cultures, both within the UK and internationally.

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New municipalism as space for solidarity (Soundings 74, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

How can new municipalism develop a progressive localism and forge translocal solidarities?

This article considers municipalism as a form of progressive localism, which on the one hand connects the local and the global through translocal solidarity, and on the other scales-up and becomes an alternative way of doing politics beyond the state. The main focus is on citizens' candidatures in Spain, which have not been linked in the traditional way to a national party, and in particular on Barcelona en Comú and Barcelona mayor Ada Colau. It discusses the question of 'everyday sovereignties' over issues such as control of water supply, energy, housing. These are areas where cities can lead change. It also discusses cities of refuge and Barcelona's Refuge City Plan, which involves civil society in welcoming refugees to the city; and the links made through the mapping of municipalisms in the Atlas of Change and the launch of Fearless Cities.

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‘Take back control’ : English new municipalism and the question of belonging (Soundings 74, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

New municipalism points to ways of grounding a revitalised democracy in more inclusive forms of belonging.

'Take back control' has been a central mobilising theme of recent British politics. The new municipalism will be critical to addressing this demand without indulging in nativism and ethno-nationalism, though to do so it must answer the question of how to fashion progressive belonging in a multi-ethnic, post-colonial nation. After a brief discussion of the British left's responses to this question, this article looks at the ways in which some of the international new municipalist platforms have sought to reshape the nation state's politics of identity and belonging; it then explores these ideas on the ground in terms of current municipal politics in England, looking at a number of different places including Preston and Wigan, and with a longer discussion of a recent project in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

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Cities of solidarity (Soundings 74, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

A conversation between the mayor of Palermo and the mayor of Izmir.

As mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando is famous for having stood up to the Mafia, and he has more recently become of champion of the rights of refugees. He is also part of the pilot project for a global parliament of mayors. Tunç Soyer, who is mayor ofzmir, pursues a similarly welcoming approach to the city’s refugees, and the city has also has a climate change department. The two Mediterranean cities have been establishing relationships of solidarity with each other, and here discuss shared concerns, and their belief that cities are often better able to meet current global challenges - such as protecting the rights of refugees and migrants, and combatting the climate emergency - than are nation states. This is part of the ‘Other Europes’ series.

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Making power emerge: municipalism and the right to the city (Soundings 74, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

Municipalist strategies enable a radical re-articulation of our hopes for political change. 

Although the end of 2019 will be remembered by many as a time of failure, the last few years have also been a time of hope. This article draws lessons from the internationalist municipalist movement, and frames these experiences through the concepts of autogestion and the Right to the City. Municipalist political strategies can provide a radical re-articulation of this hope: to argue for a municipalist politics is to argue for place-based strategies that transform our relationship to our territories, with a focus on making new forms of power emerge. It is not an alternative to national and international perspectives, but rather the development of new ways of acting on these perspectives. Establishing the difference between progressive local government policy and a municipalist agenda, the article concludes by offering five propositions for the development of a municipalist coordination in one British city - Manchester.

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Review (Soundings 74, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

‘I am haunted by this history bit I also haunt it back’: two poetry collections. 

Jay Bernard, Surge, Chatto and Windus 2019 
David Cain, Truth Street, Smokestack Books 2019

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Building the ‘Boris bloc’: angry politics in turbulent times (Soundings 74, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

Understanding the multiple forces shaping the 'Johnson bloc' may enable a strategic focus on its potential lines of fracture and failure.

The 2019 Conservative election victory has been attributed to different causes: Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn or Labour's loss of the working class. Instead, this article suggests the need to attend to multiple causes, working across widely differing time scales that came together to make this moment. These include the long trajectory of deindustrialisation and financialisation, the British troubles with post-colonialism, and the historical context of the complexities of class in the UK. These underpinned a series of public moods - anger, loss, frustration and popular fiscal realism - that became fertile ground for Conservative politics. Thinking about these multiple forces and their different temporalities enables us to see the election as part of a wider conjuncture (in temporal and spatial terms). Such a view might also allow us to think about the contingent political bloc assembled around 'Brexit' and 'Boris' and to see its potential lines of fracture and failure.

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The New Left and its legacies (Soundings 74, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

Michael Rustin talks to Sally Davison and Jeremy Gilbert.

Mike Rustin discusses his lifelong involvement in the New Left, which began when he was still at school. He describes the history of the First New Left, including the role played within it by figures such as Stuart Hall, Edward Thompson and Raymond Williams, and the role of the New Left in student politics in Oxford University, where Michael was a student and a leading member of the Labour club. He looks at the changing relationships between the New Left and the Labour Party in the 1960s and the publication of the May Day Manifesto in 1967. He also discusses the founding of the New Left Review and the transition from the time of its first editor, Stuart Hall, to that of its second, Perry Anderson, as well his two terms as a member of its editorial board, and his continuing disagreements and agreements with its editorial direction. His reflections on contemporary politics include a discussion of the relationship of New Left ideas to current movements and the Labour Party, a critique of vanguardism, and thoughts on the founding of Soundings.

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Editorial: Challenging the structures of racism (Soundings 75, Summer 2020)

February 9, 2020

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Notes from lockdown (Soundings 75, Summer 2020)

February 9, 2020

A series of reflections on Covid-19 that looks at: how the pandemic affects processes of bordering and increases the indeterminate grey zones within which so many people are forced to live; the way nurses are presented in the media and the hypocrisy of praising them in a moment of crisis while simultaneously devaluing their work and underpaying them; health inequalities in Newham; the inequalities in the craft sector spotlighted by the pandemic; the relationships between radical neighbourliness and local politics; how perceptions of time have been affected during lockdown - and how 24-7 capitalism may seek to take advantage of this radical reorganisation of time.

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A beta bailout: the near future of state intervention (Soundings 75, Summer 2020)

February 9, 2020

This article asks what kind of state intervention is needed for a post-Covid recovery. The government bailout will seek to sustain a modified form of neoliberalism, but what is needed is a bailout for society from the wreckage of the neoliberal paradigm. The outlines of a strategy for the UK economy are presented: at its heart is a radical industrial policy that prioritises social infrastructure, a green transition and providing quality employment opportunities, while paying particular attention to the functioning of the foundational economy. An active labour market policy (ALMP) is also needed, which turns away from a focus on conditionality for those on benefits, and instead focuses support on industries less affected by the pandemic and its implications for demand, including through securing a workforce that is ready to populate them. Conditionality should, on the other hand, be imposed on firms receiving government support. Bailout 2.0 must also involve intervention designed to create new public assets, managed via new forms of democratic ownership.

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Policing Black sound: performing UK Grime and Rap music under routinised surveillance (Soundings 75, Summer 2020)

February 9, 2020

The recent sounds of BLM protests can be thought of as reconstituting George Floyd’s extinguished voice - amplifying his solitary protest against restraint through creating a ruckus that interrupted the wider silencing of Black voices. UK Grime and Rap music is another way in which these silences are being challenged today, in the face of all the attempts to police it and close it down, and to restrict the artistic freedom of young Black musicians, especially as expressed in Drill music. Policing Black sound is part of the wider policing of the black body - and restrictions on Black music are discussed in relation to the many laws on anti-social behaviour that have been enacted since New Labour’s first creation of ASBOs. David Starkey’s fear about whites becoming black is linked to a long-held fear on the right about the potentially corrupting effect of Black music on white listeners, and its perceived threat to the status quo - the spread of a ‘dub virus’. 

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Good times for a change? Ireland since the general election (Soundings 75, Summer 2020)

February 9, 2020

The 2020 Irish general election result was widely characterised as both a ‘shock’ and as a victory for the left. These claims are only partially true. The recent turn to the left was not a sudden development, but rather an expression of how the Irish political landscape has changed since the global financial crash. And while the electorate certainly appear more open to left-wing politics, the principal beneficiaries in terms of the popular vote (Sinn Féin) and access to power (the Greens) were parties with only questionable left-wing credentials. Before a new government could even be formed, the advent of the global health pandemic transformed the political terrain once more, with the two traditionally dominant centre-right parties (Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil) agreeing to share power for the first time. While the restoration of the political status quo has exposed the weakness of the republican left, we suggest that the neoliberal policies that lie ahead may in time revive the fortunes of the socialist left. 

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Is shifting to US-style deregulation the inevitable consequence of Brexit? (Soundings 75, Summer 2020)

February 9, 2020

A US trade deal is a crucial part of Johnson’s post-Brexit drive towards deregulation. The deal is seen as a golden opportunity to import an American-style lax approach to regulation. For the US negotiators, any imposition of regulations and standards on imported goods is seen as creating unfair barriers for trade. This is the cause of headlines about chlorinated chickens, but will also affect public services - which are regarded as unfair competition. Price regulation - as, for example, for drugs used by the NHS - is also seen as interference. A deal is also likely to include clauses binding the settlement into the ‘corporate courts’ system, which allows businesses to prosecute governments for ‘discriminating’ against them. In the EU Britain was protected against such demands from bigger states, and its MEPS could vote on treaty terms. However UK MPs do not have oversight over such deals. A wide coalition has been formed to oppose the deal, which may be able to reach beyond the ‘Brexit divide’. 

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Centripetal force: a totalitarian movement in contemporary Brazil (Soundings 75, Summer 2020)

February 9, 2020

The mass movement that made Bolsonaro is driven by the redemptive promise of resolving Brazil’s social conflicts and ending its social differences: Bolsonarismo will create a community of equals in a Christian fatherland. It is a political phenomenon  that seeks a major shift away from modern politics: instead of party mediation, a mass movement; instead of the law, male honour; instead of representation, identity; instead of pluralism, the brotherhood; instead of the Constitution, the Gospel; and, finally, in the place of communicative reason, raw violence. Its defining characteristic is aversion to difference. The article describes and analyses the contours of the movement, as well as the shock its success has produced among the elites and intelligentsia. It draws from ethnographical research in Brazil’s urban peripheries to identify the forces that have driven Bolsonaro forward. And it highlights the central elements of the cyclical crisis that Brazil is experiencing in 2020, and its possible consequences.

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The new moving right show (Soundings 75, Summer 2020)

February 9, 2020

The current political conjuncture in the UK invites a revisiting of Stuart Hall’s influential analysis of Thatcherism and, in particular, his characterisation of authoritarian populism. With the Conservatives’ recent and ongoing shift towards right-wing populism under Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings, we have a useful comparator with the turn to Thatcherism; and this shift also provides the opportunity to engage in a longer-range analysis of the relationship between conservatism, authoritarian/right-wing populism and neoliberalism. Hall’s association of Thatcherism with authoritarian populism occurred during a fallow period in analyses of populism - in stark contrast to the contemporary populist ‘moment’, ‘eruption’ or ‘explosion’. Thatcher’s populist credentials are interrogated: some elements of current definitions of populism, including the people versus elite antagonism, were sidelined in her political language; and an emphasis on individualism infused her wider discourse. Nevertheless, the concept of an authoritarian populism, and Hall’s wider analysis, still offers an interesting perspective for a contemporary period of challenge to dominant discourse - even though the contestation is within the right. 

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Class and nation in the age of populism: The forward march of labour restarted? (Soundings 75, Summer 2020)

February 9, 2020

To portray populism purely as a threat to democracy is to fail to recognise that it expresses widespread feelings of discontent with the current system, which is in systemic crisis. This has expressed itself through both anti-foreigner (nationalist) and anti-elites (class) sentiment. The left needs to focus on a class-based strategy, and to organise in particular among the new working class, which is ethnically diverse and composed mostly of well-educated service workers in London and the large cities. Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn sought to mobilise these constituencies, as well as their more traditional constituencies, along class lines. Though they did not succeed electorally, in the longer run, the fact that the new working class is predominantly young and increasingly attracted by an alternative and socialist vision of economy and society may be a cause for some optimism.

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Gender, race, class, ecology and peace (Soundings 75, Summer 2020)

February 9, 2020

In this interview Vron Ware discusses how her work has intertwined themes of ‘gender, race, class, ecology and peace’, as she put it in her book Beyond the Pale: White Women, Racism and History, published in 1992 - a time when ‘talking about whiteness … was usually met by stony silence’. She relates this and her early work on gender and the National Front to more recent incarnations of gendered racism. The discussion moves over a wide range of subjects, including whiteness and the environmental movement, feminist statues and military monuments, the role of painting and photography in teaching and learning and how we might see futures beyond militarism. Ware reflects on ways in which the politics of ‘gender, race, class, ecology and peace’ formed part of her background in NGOs and campaigning organisations - including Searchlight, Friends of the Earth and the Women’s Design Service. The same themes also run through her current project on re-thinking the category of the rural, which involves ‘trying to think ecologically, in a way that sees interconnections between social, economic and cultural changes’ - continuing the effort to join the dots between anti-racism, feminism, anti-militarism and eco-socialism. 

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Conversations with Stuart Hall: unravelling and resistance (Soundings 75, Summer 2020)

February 9, 2020

This article explores what it’s like to live through the unravelling of a political settlement, and reflects on its complicated relationship to resistance. To do so, it discusses two young people who live thousands of miles apart and looks at some of the threads which bind them together. Kamal lives in Cairo, and was an activist in the Egyptian revolution. Kyle, from Greater Manchester, has a suffered from a lack of social care support - directly related to austerity - that caused him to become homeless as a teenager. Each life has been irrevocably marked by the impossibility of sustaining the settlement that existed before the financial crisis. Each young man lives under a government that has no intention of addressing their needs. Each continues, despite everything, to believe in politics. The new landscape of political struggle contains both emancipatory and deeply revanchist possibilities. Understanding its contours will help us to find within it the people, communities and the stories that give cause for optimism.

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Reviews (Soundings 75, Summer 2020)

February 9, 2020

Populism: the view from anthropology
John Clarke reviews Katharine C. Donahue and Patricia R. Heck (eds), Cycles of Hatred and Rage: What Right Wing Extremists and Their Parties in Europe Tell Us About the US, Palgrave Macmillan 2019
The importance of conversation
Sally Davison reviews Critical Dialogues: Thinking together in turbulent times, John Clarke, in conversation with Wendy Brown, Allan Cochrane, Davina Cooper, Larry Grossberg, Wendy Larner, Gail Lewis, Tania Murray Li, Jeff Maskovsky, Janet Newman, Aradhana Sharma, Paul Stubbs, Fiona Williams, Policy Press 2019

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World makers of the Black Atlantic (Soundings 75, Summer 2020)

February 9, 2020

In Worldmaking After Empire, Adom Getachew challenges standard histories of decolonisation, which chart the story of a simple shift from empire to independent nationhood. She shows that supporters of decolonisation have always sought to create something much more than nationalisms: they have engaged in a dynamic and rival system of revolutionary worldmaking, seeking an alternative international system that could replace the old inequitable dispensation. She charts this decolonial project from its roots in the works of Black Atlantic thinkers like W.E.B. Du Bois and C.L.R. James in the 1920s and 1930s. The key events she tracks are the challenges the project faced in the United Nations in the 1940s and 1950s; attempts at regional federation in late 1950s and 1960s; and the emergence of the New International Economic Order in the 1960s and 1970s. This a twentieth century tradition now ripe to be reclaimed and revived. 

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Editorial: Moving beyond response mode (Soundings 76, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

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Regional inequalities and the collapse of Labour’s ‘Red Wall’ (Soundings 76, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

This article seeks to explain the Conservatives’ capture of traditionally Labour-voting ‘red wall’ seats in England and Wales, looking beyond electoral trends and cultural characteristics to place it in the broader context of patterns of regional inequality and regional policy in the UK. It outlines the political attitudes and values of ‘red wall’ voters in order to assess these areas’ future political prospects, particularly in terms of the Conservatives’ ability to deliver their ‘levelling up’ agenda and Labour’s future strategy. It discusses the focus of regional policy on cities, seen as engines of economic growth, especially in the Northern Powerhouse (NPh) initiative, at the expense of towns. The idea of ‘levelling up’ was central to the Conservatives’ strategy for the ‘red wall’ seats, but their approach during the Covid-19 pandemic has tended to undermine faith in this promise.

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The hostile environment and crimmigration: blurring the lines between civil and criminal law (Soundings 76, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

The recent media furore surrounding the UK government’s hostile environment policy and the treatment of the Windrush generation drew attention to the use of criminal law for regulatory purposes within the context of immigration. The proliferation of immigration offences, and the reproduction of criminal provisions in immigration laws, signals a blurring of the lines between the civil and criminal legal realms: while immigration law purports to be administrative in character it is often effected through criminal law, which is used against citizens and non-citizens in breach of immigration rules when immigration measures alone are ineffective. These ‘crimmigration’ measures can be understood as examples of hybrid proceduralism. The civil/criminal procedural hybrids used in ‘crimmigration’ processes are borne of ideologically motivated political expediency, and disproportionately disadvantage vulnerable populations, who are frequently portrayed as deviant. They privilege specific policy goals over considerations of human rights, civil liberties, and due process.

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Exploring ‘artivist’ innovations in Ireland’s pro-choice campaign (Soundings 76, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

This article looks at the artistic practices of feminist pro-choice artivists in Ireland, in the successful mobilisation for repeal of the Eighth amendment. It focuses in particular on the home|work.collective, who in their performances in public places of The Renunciation - a performed reading of abortion stories - helped to make people’s lived experiences visible at multiple scales: new technology enabled them to ‘stretch’ the reach of these performances into digital space, and to leverage the opportunities offered by social media for horizontal organising. The Renunciation’s transnational resonance also enabled it to travel to spaces beyond its original performance sites. Through combining political public art and performance with technology, new possibilities emerged for solidarity, visibility and public participation in advancing reproductive rights. Creating and connecting new spaces of solidarity - ‘hybrid spaces’ - new possibilities for alliance-making were opened up.

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Labour needs a real class analysis and it needs it now (Soundings 76, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

In her book The New Working Class - How to Win Hearts, Minds and Votes, Head of Policy for the Labour Party Clare Ainsley has got class absolutely wrong. She seems to have no sense of the nature of post-industrial capitalism as a form of capitalism, including the role of finance and property capital, and what that means for the way class is structured, understood and lived. If the Labour Party works to this view of class it will not be able to develop the necessary class base for a transformational politics. It needs a more in-depth analysis of the class implications of post-industrial capitalism and of work experience within it; this would include, in particular, a recognition of the significance of households (as opposed to individuals) for incomes and wealth, especially in relation to home ownership and pensions, which have benefitted those in possession of assets and had a major impact on generational inequality. It also needs to understand the experience not just of the poor but also of the ‘squeezed middle’, a group that - rather than being dismissed as embodying metro-cosmopolitan values (something that applies to only a very small fraction of the middle class) - needs to be a key focus of political action.

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Degrees on the side: student employment and the neoliberal university (Soundings 76, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

This article draws on interviews with 39 female students who work, in order to refute contradictory, and class-blind, narratives that see students as either workshy, or as ‘failing’ to prioritise their education over paid employment. The data reveals that dominant ideas of the undergraduate experience are outmoded and fail to represent the multiplicity and complexity of students’ lives. The experiences of the interviewees make it clear just how wide of the mark universities and governments are in their understanding of the employment pressures faced by many students. Rather than being un/employed, young people are now engaging with university and work in ‘new’ ways, in response to the increased neoliberalisation of higher education and the labour markets. Participants ranged from students with side-jobs to students who were doing their degrees ‘on the side’; either as a strategic form of income generation and/or as a result of structural inequalities. The findings from the study add to scholarship demonstrating the need to rethink higher education and how it is delivered in the UK.

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Social reproduction as social infrastructure (Soundings 76, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

The term social infrastructure is increasingly being discussed in academic literature, policy reports and public forums. We might even go so far as to say it is the latest buzzword. Feminist economists understand social infrastructures as encompassing all aspects of social reproduction, but these ideas are routinely sidelined in wider debates. This article provides a critical reading of key trends in the ways the term social infrastructure is currently being defined and deployed: namely, as being equivalent to social spaces and spaces of sociability, such as community centres, parks and libraries, rather than being understood in terms of labour, gender and social reproduction. Part of the reason for this is the association between social reproduction and the home, which leads to a dismissal of reproductive work in communities at large. In writing about infrastructures more generally, it is not uncommon for gendered labour, care and reproduction to go completely ignored, or at least to only be discussed in relation to physical infrastructure. This simultaneous erasure and co-optation of feminist ideas has the effect of diminishing, diluting and marginalising the role of social reproduction as the foundation of our economy and society. It is therefore also a form of depoliticisation. In the article’s conclusion, the case is made for recognising and reclaiming social reproduction as social infrastructure: an infra-structural approach could help alleviate long-standing tensions in definitions of social reproduction as both process and practice, and as operating on multiple scales.

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‘A decisive effort is necessary’: heritage, Brexit and the British state (Soundings 76, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

The starting point of this discussion is Wright’s On Living in an Old Country (1985), which sought to understand how a selective idea of national tradition had been mobilised by Thatcher for a disruptive political project that was fundamentally destructive of tradition. This is a rhetorical strategy that is extremely widespread today, alongside the notion that there is one, singular, version of history to be told. In the 1980s the postwar social-democratic settlement was portrayed by the right as a betrayal of the noble sacrifices made in the war, and the case for Brexit relies on a similar appeal to an allegedly interrupted national past. The left has been much less successful in mobilising such stories of national history, and tends to avoid questions of Britishness and Englishness. Given an increasingly disunited kingdom, however, the question of Englishness has become ever more pressing. This does not mean that it is a good time to adopt an unreflected idea of English ‘patriotism’. Rather, the left should seek to foster a new, less beleaguered and resentful, more generous and more various experience of cultural identity within England: its ambition should be for a much broader cultural and political transformation. For the conditions into which the Conservative Party has led the British nations may not prove to be enduring. Things can shift suddenly. Nevertheless, as a slogan for the sugar harvest in Castro’s Cuba once proclaimed: ‘A Decisive Effort is Necessary’.

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Migration in Afghan women’s poetry (Soundings 76, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

This article reproduces examples of Afghan Landays and offers a commentary on their meanings. Landays are pithy, powerful two-line poems that speak of love, honour, war and separation. They are part of a long oral tradition in Pashtun culture, and are often composed by women. The largest group of Landays are written by women left behind in Afghanistan, and they include references to all stages of the migration experience, from departure, through the period of absence, to return. Landays have continued to circulate among Afghan Pashtuns for decades, and the emotions voiced have remained largely the same - the fear of abandonment, and the loneliness and vulnerability of women who are left behind. The only distinction between the earlier and later Landays seems to be the absence of joy in the later ones. All the teasing and urging of migrants disappears in the period that began with the Soviet invasion.

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Review – Embodying precarious masculinities (Soundings 76, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

Jamie Hakim, Work that Body: Male Bodies in Digital Culture, Radical Cultural Studies series, Rowman & Littlefield 2019

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Rethinking early years: how the neoliberal agenda fails children (Soundings 76, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

Early years education in England is in crisis. This article looks at what is needed to better provide the kind of education and care that young children need outside the home, from birth to school-starting age. It explores: the current arrangements and varieties of provision and approaches in England; educational and developmental research about young children’s development and early learning; the current national early years curriculum and how it contrasts to other international models and pedagogical approaches; the importance of play-based learning; the role of adults in observing, recording, assessing and supporting young children’s learning; and the holistic nature of children’s learning - which makes education and care inseparable in young children’s lives. Neoliberal governments have had little interest in these questions: they have been focused instead on marketising the sector, which has led to great inequality of provision; and they have been unwilling to provide the necessary funding to train staff and maintain appropriate learning environments; most fundamentally, they have engaged in an ideological drive to impose on very small children a narrow and formal curriculum that ignores all the evidence about good practice in the sector, and is focused on making them ‘school ready’ - that is, ready to fit into the rigid frameworks they have already imposed on primary school education.

Part of the Soundings Futures series

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Boris Johnson’s Conservatism: an insurrection against political reason? (Soundings 73, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

Since 2016, a position of intransigent dedication to realising ‘the will of the people’ as expressed in the Brexit referendum has served not only to stiffen the sinews of the faithful but also to disorganise the opposition. Commitment to the popular will trips off the tongue, easily proclaimed by the newly minted tribunes of the people - most of whom, in their previous incarnations, have appeared to countenance little but disdain for the desires of the multitude. How the world changes. This is the point at which Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg enter the frame as self-styled tribunes.

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Queer comrades: towards a postsocialist queer politics (Soundings 73, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

Perhaps one of the most fascinating changes in the modern Chinese language in the past century has been the use of the term tongzhi (??). In its early twentieth-century sense of ‘comrade’, tongzhi was widely used as an honorific in China’s revolutionary and socialist eras for people across the political left, although the term’s origin from and connection with international communist movements was also evident.1 In China’s post-revolutionary and postsocialist era, the term has been used by gender and sexual minorities including LGBTQ people for self-identification. Recently it has become a term synonymous with ‘queer’ in English. From ‘comrade’ to ‘queer’, and from a socialist politics blind to human sexuality to a hypersexualised postsocialist queer politics - what has happened and what can we learn from it?

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This is not an essay about Trump (Soundings 73, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

We are living through a period of chaotic transition, in which the politics of affect are playing an ever-increasing role.

The most common starting point for discussions of US politics assumes that the population is rigidly polarised, that we are a nation at war with itself, engaged in a ‘war of manoeuvre’ between two camps - Us versus Them, good and evil. Each camp is confident about who belongs in it: if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Both sides present themselves as the defenders of true American values, as representing the insurgent people - one side standing against a failed, self-righteous and bloated establishment that has created a culture of dependency, the other against a long history of the dominant structures of inequality and injustice. Once the sides have been established, both are free to construct the other as an existential threat to the nation.

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Religion, the secular and the left (Soundings 73, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

How do different ideas about religion and the secular shape the building of solidarities and alliances?

In pretty much any part of the UK today you will find signs of a wide array of religious organisations and spiritual practices - food banks held in church halls, yoga sessions in community centres, mosques and small Pentecostal churches on industrial estates. For someone looking forward just a few decades ago, such signs of ongoing and visible religiosity might be surprising, as many assumed ‘religion’ would decline as society became more ‘modern’ and ‘secular’. Instead, religion is highly present within everyday life and public discourse, where it is characterised in vastly polarised ways - often as an inherently positive motivator for good people to do good things, but also as a profound threat to the social fabric. Such polarised judgements have been described as the good religion/bad religion paradigm.

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‘We do not have to be vicious, competitive, or managerial’: Akwugo Emejulu interviewed by Jo Littler (Soundings 73, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

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Radical left parties, counter-hegemony and the EU (Soundings 73, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

What are the possibilities for building a counter-hegemonic radical left in Europe?

The results for radical left parties in the European Parliament elections of May 2019 highlighted issues about the left’s weak status as a political family, as well its heterogeneity; and these, in turn, pointed to some of the wider questions about radical left unity in Europe. What are its common denominators? And what are the prospects for cohesion and coordination? The aim of this article is to explore some of these questions, but it may be helpful to first define what is meant by radical left, and to give a brief account of the United European Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group in the European Parliament.

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Mind the gap: the role of intercultural dialogues in building other Europes (Soundings 73, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

Rasha Shaaban talks to Antje Scharenberg.

This interview is the first instalment in our ‘Other Europes’ series. 

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Babies and bathwaters: attachment, neuroscience, evolution and the left (Soundings 73, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

The left should take another look at attachment, neurobiology and early life experience.

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‘We got the power!’: the political potential of street choirs (Soundings 73, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

Street choirs engage our emotions, revealing opportunities to make connections and nurture solidarities

In January 2019 drill rappers Skengdo and AM were sentenced to nine months in prison for performing their song - Attempted 1.0 - in London.1 When Extinction Rebellion launched their campaign of direct action on climate change this year, they arrived on the scene complete with their own anthem. They then shared 31st Emergency widely and formed a choir to perform it at demonstrations.2 These two very recent examples are an affirmation of the ‘power of song’ to express a social truth. In the UK, at least, everybody from the Metropolitan Police and the judiciary to the latest insurrectionary movement is taking singing very seriously.

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The commonwealth of winds (Soundings 73, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

In the midst of the 2018 Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, a group of comrades under the banner of Artists4Corbyn made a journey to the wind turbines just off the coast. The grey pillars of the generators that march across the horizon are visible from the northern parts of the city. Our intention was to gain a visceral experience of the Green Industrial Revolution being launched at the Conference. The following day at ‘The World Transformed’ we retold the story of our voyage.

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Reviews (Soundings 73, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

A feminist reading of Rethinking Democracy
Karen Celis and Sarah Childs

Andrew Gamble and Tony Wright (eds), Rethinking Democracy, Political Quarterly Monograph Series, 2019

Trump and trade with the East: the continuing story
Marc Reyes
Andrew C. McKevitt. Consuming Japan: Popular Culture and the Globalizing of 1980s America, University of North Carolina Press, 2017

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Editorial: Everything to fight for (Soundings 73, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

As we were going to press the December general election was announced. During the campaign Boris Johnson looks set to continue his impersonation act as tribune of the people and embodiment of the popular will. For this reason Bill Schwarz’s analysis in this issue of Johnson’s role in attempting to reconfigure the Conservative Party as a party of the populist right is essential reading. As Schwarz argues, the incorporation of right-wing populism potentially marks a new period in the history of the old party. The continuously intensifying condensation of meanings into the deadly Brexit meme, which began long before the referendum took place, has offered the right an historic opportunity to link together a set of populist ideas that may be capable of re-ordering the political landscape of Britain.

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Editorial: Who are ‘the many’? (Soundings 72, Summer 2019)

August 1, 2019

Kirsten Forkert and Sally Davison introduce this special issue of Soundings.

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Brexit and democracy (Soundings 72, Summer 2019)

August 1, 2019

The slogan ‘take back control’ can be seen as an expression of protest at the hollowing out of democracy. The Brexit referendum has caused many problems, but it has also opened up the possibility for a sense of re-empowerment - the renewed possibility for discussion of ‘substantive politics’. The article distinguishes between procedural democracy and substantive democracy - the ability to actually affect decisions. The former is in a relatively healthy state across Europe, the latter is not. The only political position on Brexit that has the potential to assist in the restoring of substantive democracy is the remain and reform position. The 2016 referendum has hugely strengthened the forces of reaction - racism, exclusive nationalism and market fundamentalism - but it has also galvanised a new generation of pro-European green, socialist and democratic activists. This opens up the possibility of restoring a degree of meaningful political participation for individual citizens across the continent, and reversing the sense of disempowerment that led to Brexit. 

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Populism (Soundings 72, Summer 2019)

August 1, 2019

Populism refers to forms of politics that put ‘the people’ at their centre, but the way ‘the people’ is understood varies widely. Questions of left populism have gained significant traction and engagement in the last decade - and this is a key focus of this article. While recognising the importance of Ernesto Laclau’s analysis in On Populist Reason, the authors argue that his work is hindered by an overly formalist account of the political. Stuart Hall’s writings on Thatcherism offer a more contextual and situated engagement with particular populist strategies, and have continuing relevance for understanding right-wing populism. Podemos in Spain and Syriza in Greece offer actually existing experiences of left populism. The authors discuss three limitations in their strategies: their ‘nationed’ narratives of the crisis; the relationship between the parties’ leadership and grassroots politics; and the nature of their engagement with internationalist political projects. 

Part of the Critical Terms series.

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Welfare imaginaries at the interregnum (Soundings 72, Summer 2019)

August 1, 2019

This article brings together reflections from the recent seminar series, Welfare Imaginaries, and explores the ways that ‘welfare’ has been and can be narrated, constructed and understood. There is an urgent need to consider alternative, and more creative, imaginings of the welfare state, particularly at a time of intensifying neoliberalism and austerity measures, a hardening of attitudes towards welfare, and divisive rhetoric centred around deservingness. Both research and the lived experiences of austerity have shown the disproportionate impacts of welfare reforms on those already living with significant hardship. In creatively rethinking and reshaping welfare, the authors argue that those with direct experience of poverty, and thus most affected by welfare reform, should be a significant part of the conversation; and they also consider different ways of crafting welfare imaginaries that are inclusive, fair and socially just.

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Confronting power: how can we transform political education? (Soundings 72, Summer 2019)

August 1, 2019

Five people involved in political education projects look at ways of creating approaches to political education that can assist in the development of a culturally inclusive, participatory and democratic left politics. Transforming political education means confronting issues of power within the left itself, as well as an ongoing reckoning with issues of class and race both inside and outside the left. It also means re-booting the radical tradition of adult education, and working together to develop new and better ways of organising, convening and building solidarities. Contributors draw on their experiences with ACORN, Voices that Shake!, Platform, Adult Education 100 and The World Transformed.

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A new vision for adult education (Soundings 72, Summer 2019)

August 1, 2019

Adult education is profoundly political: historically, it has enabled access to education for those who would otherwise have been excluded, and it has played an important role in the development of a democratic politics. The austerity years have led to the erosion of access to education for working-class people, as higher education has become increasingly selective, mono-cultural and elitist, and Further Education has been seriously affected by funding cuts. The author argues, instead, for a revived vision for this sector, and a return to a broader conception of adult education - of the kind that was envisioned by the 1919 government Report on Adult Education, which is currently being revisited by the Adult Education 100 initiative. Civic education, in particular, is under threat today, but it is the kind of education that is most urgently needed.

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Green business and local economies (Soundings 72, Summer 2019)

August 1, 2019

This article focuses on how the green agenda can be progressed through practical steps at the local government level. The author draws on his time as a councillor in the London Borough of Enfield, where he combined his interests in regeneration and sustainability. He argues that environmental sustainability should be viewed as a prime policy consideration in all levels of government; and that a green business logic should be applied when assessing the viability of initiatives in this area. Local government is in a relatively good position for green business investment. However, the sums of money required mean that external counterparts and commercial interests are also needed. The article describes initiatives to support the local private green-tech sector, and the founding of a low-carbon heat-from-waste company, energetik, whose next stage involves building an energy centre adjacent to the North London Waste Authority’s waste facility.

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Ode to the unwavering people of Afghanistan (Soundings 72, Summer 2019)

August 1, 2019

Imagine being in the midst of a political mass rally, the first in many years, right in the centre of your home country’s capital. Imagine people from all walks of life with their banners, slogans and demands, asking for a little bit more life and dignity not only for themselves but for the whole of society. Imagine people expressing, or rather embodying, a whole ecology of deep affects (rage, pain, love, solidarity), cross-fertilising each other and producing an atmosphere never tasted before, never even deemed possible before, a taste that is beyond words, but palpable with the soul: a taste of poetry.

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Reviews (Soundings 72, Summer 2019)

August 1, 2019

Antje Scharenberg reviews Lorenzo Marsili and Niccolò Milanese, Citizens of Nowhere - How Europe Can Be Saved from Itself, Zed 2018, and Johny Pitts, Afropean - Notes from Black Europe, Allen Lane 2019.

Nick Beech reviews Stuart Hall and Paddy Whannel, The Popular Arts, with an introduction by Richard Dyer, Duke University Press, Durham NC and London 2018.

Simon Peplow reviews Shirin Hirsch, In the Shadow of Enoch Powell: Race, Locality and Resistance, Manchester University Press.

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The question of progressive agency (Soundings 72, Summer 2019)

August 1, 2019

This article revisits debates about agency: what and where are the forces and agents that might bring about change? In the past liberals and socialists broadly shared a belief in social enlightenment and progress, but liberals believed that this could be achieved gradually, through education, while Marxists believed that self-organisation by the working class was the way forward. A third, more recent, approach argues that changes in information technology are making it possible for society to shift from hierarchical to lateral patterns of connection. These three different approaches to agency are critically discussed. Among the thinkers discussed are Karl Marx, Raymond Williams, Eric Hobsbawm, Robin Murray, Manuel Castells, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. The rethinking and renewal of institutions that modern societies now need calls for deep engagement with these issues, and both ‘new’ and ‘old’ conceptions of agency are relevant to this task.

Part of the Critical Terms series. 

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Yellow fever: populist pangs in France (Soundings 72, Summer 2019)

August 1, 2019

A discussion of the recent gilets jaunes revolt in France, reflecting on the dynamics of contemporary populist social movements. Starting with the causes of the uprising - underlying and immediate - the article goes on to explore the democratic demands of the movement, the role of the historical imaginary of the French Revolution, the relationship between the gilets jaunes and France’s banlieues, and the predominance of police violence.

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Editorial: neoliberalism, feminism and transnationalism (Soundings 71, Spring 2019)

April 1, 2019

Alison Winch, Kirsten Forkert and Sally Davison introduce this special issue of Soundings.

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Feminising our revolutions (Soundings 71, Spring 2019)

April 1, 2019

This article offers an initial mapping of some of the multiple feminist/feminised movements emerging across Latin America. It puts into dialogue and brings together some of the more newly visible feminist movements, including Ni Una Menos in Argentina and decolonial/Black and Indigenous feminist struggles across the continent, focusing here particularly on groups in Colombia. Arguably, these movements are together developing a new politics against the violence of the state and business interests, and for the visibility and autonomy of women. One tactic adopted by Ni Una Menos is the Women’s Strike, which not only recuperates the strike as a tactic of resistance but also reimagines the nature of the strike through also focusing on invisible and undervalued labour in the domestic sphere, social reproduction, and the labours of care carried out by informal migrants.

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A feminist analysis of neoliberalism and austerity policies in the UK (Soundings 71, Spring 2019)

April 1, 2019

Economic decisions - such as where investment is increased and or withdrawn, which services will flourish and which will be run down, whose living standards will be protected or boosted and whose reduced - are not gender neutral. Neoliberal policies in particular have disproportionately affected women, particularly low-income and BAME women, through their lack of interest in social investment and the cuts they are making to the resources and public services that sustain life. They treat women’s unpaid labour as an expandable and costless resource that can absorb all the extra work that results from these cuts. This article discusses some of these effects, drawing in particular on data from the Women’s Budget Group and work by feminist political economists. It also makes the case for investment in the social infrastructure as an engine of sustainable economic growth, and argues against a focus solely on investment in physical infrastructure and the creation of paid employment.

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#MeToo and the prospects of political change (Soundings 71, Spring 2019)

April 1, 2019

This article looks at the context for the current mainstreaming of feminism, noting that some aspects of the current feminist ‘renaissance’ are troubling: neoliberal strands of feminism tend to be unmoored from key terms such as equality, justice and emancipation, and to be individually focused. #MeToo shares some of these characteristics, particularly in its individualism and in the overwhelming media attention given to its celebrity endorsers, while ignoring its black founder Tarana Burke. However, as well as the ‘me’ there is also a ‘too’ in the movement, which suggests some notion of collectivity, and there is no doubt that #MeToo has led to more attention being paid to sexual harassment, and has potentially contributed to a transformation in mainstream common sense about what is acceptable behaviour. After all, as political theorists and activists have been arguing for a very long time, visibility is a necessary part of resistance, and this issue is now certainly more visible.

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Neoliberal feminism in Africa (Soundings 71, Spring 2019)

April 1, 2019

This article explores neoliberal feminism in relation to Africa, with a particular focus on Nigeria. It argues that neoliberal feminism is more likely to be embraced in Nigeria than some of the other kinds of feminism that are circulating there. This is because its high levels of poverty and unemployment have fostered an individualised entrepreneurial mindset that is in some ways more in line with this kind of feminism. The need for income means that all women who can find paid work take it on - often in the informal economy. Thus equality at work and in business has been easier to achieve than equality in the home. It could be argued that a Nigerian version of the neoliberal feminist goal of individual empowerment and a good work-life balance has emerged, though it remains dependent on accepting inequality within the family. This implies the need to be aware that ideas have very different effects in different contexts. The article also reflects on the work of African Women in Media, which seeks to mobilise women in media industries, and to improve the representation and visibility of women in African media.

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The fight against sexual violence (Soundings 71, Spring 2019)

April 1, 2019

A critical engagement with the feminist fight against sexual violence, especially in relation to global rightward shifts in which political and cultural narratives around gender are being reshaped and rejuvenated. In the context of a new ‘war on women’ worldwide, #MeToo and similar movements have been key to contemporary political resistance. However, mainstream movements against sexual violence are ill-equipped to address the intersections of patriarchy, capitalism and colonialism which produce sexual violence. Furthermore, reactionary strands within these movements are gaining increasing power and platforms, sometimes dovetailing with the narratives of the far right in their attacks on sex workers and trans people. I argue that to resist an intersectionality of systems, we need what Angela Davis calls an intersectionality of struggles, and that feminism which does not centre the most marginalised is not fit for purpose. 

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Transnational feminism and the post-2015 development agenda (Soundings 71, Spring 2019)

April 1, 2019

A critical reflection on the contemporary nature of transnational feminist mobilisation and organising, based on the African Women’s Development and Communication Network’s (FEMNET) experiences of global and African based advocacy during consultations around the creation of the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This article draws on FEMNET’s experiences in three ways. One, to re-examine some of the debates that have shaped the field of women’s rights, feminist activism or gender justice in Africa and the enduring legacies of these discourses in policy advocacy today. Two, to analyse the politics of movement-building, the influence of development funding and how they shape policy discourses and praxis on women’s rights and gender justice. Finally, to problematise the nature of transnational feminist solidarity. Through these reflections, we intend to draw connections between scholarship on transnational feminist praxis and activism to highlight lessons that arise from a retrospective examination of what it means to engage in feminist policy advocacy across geo-political divides. 

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rest (Soundings 71, Spring 2019)

April 1, 2019

‘It would be so lovely to think that, if I were a man, I could explain the law and people would listen and say “OK.” That would be so restful.’
Laura, Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)

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Reviews (Soundings 71, Spring 2019)

April 1, 2019

Tamysn Dent reviews Tracey Jensen, Parenting the Crises. The Cultural Politics of Parent-Blame, Policy Press 2018
Jannat Hossain reviews Amrit Wilson, Finding a Voice: Asian Women in Britain [1978], new edition Daraja 2018
Katharine Harris and Peter Ridley review Season 11, Doctor Who, BBC 2018

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Conversations with Stuart Hall (Soundings 71, Spring 2019)

April 1, 2019

In this set of three discussions, the contributors look at Hall’s work on modernisation and its meanings; post-Fordism and disorganised capitalism; and race and migration. Hall’s discussions of post-Fordism, regarded by some as representing modernity (though characterised by others as disorganised capitalism), were informed by the view that this was an age to which either a progressive or a regressive politics could be articulated. Reactionary responses have been in the ascendant in Britain in the last few years, and modernity has been too often experienced as neoliberal globalisation. The British left has yet to find a strong counter-narrative, including on the question of nation. It needs to find a narrative capable of including both social liberals and more traditional left voters, and the progressive elements in both the middle and working classes. This cannot be done without a democratic sense of nation. The left is better at addressing questions of inequality and social justice than it is in connecting to progressive ideas about identity and the nations of the UK. It also needs to tackle the racist framing of much of the debate on migration, including the subliminal (though sometimes overt) message that all black and Asian people are ‘immigrants’, regardless of how long they and their families have lived in the UK. 

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Brazil, now (Soundings 71, Spring 2019)

April 1, 2019

With the 2018 election of Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency of Brazil, the far right was victorious in the dispute over control of the state apparatus and is now instituting neoliberal economic and fascist public security policies. In this article, Liv Sovik examines contemporary Brazilian politics from the perspective of a crisis in the relationship between the white, middle class left and the broad majority of the population. It presents the reactions of public intellectuals and university students to Bolsonaro’s election and the new government’s first policy initiatives, especially as regards universities, vilified during the election campaign for promoting ‘cultural Marxism’ and ‘gender ideology’. Finally, it describes how the connection came to light between the Bolsonaro family and the extreme right paramilitary forces that executed Rio de Janeiro town councilwoman and human rights activist Marielle Franco on 14 March 2018. The article makes two contributions to the discussion of the contemporary fascism that sustains neoliberalism in government. At a micropolitical level and in the long term, it suggests the value of cultivating social relations that escape instrumental and therefore neoliberal reason. At a macropolitical level, it reads the groundswell of revolt at the execution of Marielle Franco as a sign of a potential alternative to the politics of inter-class solidarity under white leadership.

 

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‘1968’ and the politics of memory (Soundings 70, Autumn 2018)

November 1, 2018

1960s counterculture offered a fleeting glimpse of an alternative form of civil society, and the spirit of ’68 continues to inspire the quest for a more open, participatory and democratic society. Some see it as having prepared the way for neoliberal consumerism and individualism, others regard it as the great disseminator of popular and anti-authoritarian politics. This partly reflects the tensions between the left’s authoritarian and libertarian tendencies. But when we revisit momentous events we should not be looking for evidence that bolsters our own position. Instead we should be trying to capture their singularity, their divergence from the historical context in which they were embedded - in an effort to restore their potential for reconfiguring the present.

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Antisemitism, anti-racism and the Labour Party (Soundings 70, Autumn 2018)

November 1, 2018

Arguments about antisemitism need to be understood in the context of the current political conjuncture - a time of increased racism in the wider society, but also a time when the issue has been weaponised in order to attack Corbynism. There is a need to acknowledge the existence of antisemitism in the left and Labour Party, even while calling for recognition that it also exists in other parties. Within the Labour Party, antisemitism should not be dismissed by loyalists who see all criticism as an attack on Corbyn, but nor should it be instrumentalised by his critics. For Labour and the left there are three separate strategic necessities - none of them easy: the short-term goal of finding strategies that can help Labour win in the next election; and the longer term goals of separating the issue of criticism of Israel from the issue of antisemitism, and integrating antisemitism into ideas about racism, from which it has been separated. Instead of antisemitism being associated with criticism of Israel, it needs to be understood as an aspect of racism.

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Narratives of sustainability: a lesson from Indonesia (Soundings 70, Autumn 2018)

November 1, 2018

Dominant global narratives on sustainability have a tendency to reinforce precisely the conditions that have produced the crisis. This is because an appropriate response would undermine the whole system. Unsustainable behaviour is framed in terms of ‘them’ (the unsustainable and badly behaved global South) and ‘us’ (the wealthy countries who are ‘helping’ them becoming sustainable - defined in terms of the adoption of western norms). Such narratives take attention away from over-consumption, especially of fossil fuels, in the wealthy north. The way the issue of deforestation in Indonesia has been framed illustrates this. The process of deforestation began in the colonial period, and continued in the post-colonial era with newer capitalist forms of resource extraction. Yet contemporary international intervention has been based on the notion that the fault lies within Indonesia itself. Deforestation is understood in terms of market functions and market failures, a framing which assumes delinquent local behaviour, and focuses on internal institutions, corruption and ineffective law enforcement - while ignoring the powerful global factors that are in reality driving environmental destruction.

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Dependence (Soundings 70, Autumn 2018)

November 1, 2018

We are all dependent, none more so than the rich and powerful, who could not maintain their status without an army of servants, in spite of their contempt of the ‘dependency culture’ of the poor. Chronic illness is a common source of dependency. It forces people to rely on the state - and, if they are lucky, a network of good- hearted friends. The formal social contract is often underpinned by this much more personal one of support from friends. But the nature of gratitude towards giving friends is complex - Melanie Klein is much better known for her early writing on envy than her later view of gratitude ‘as an expression of love and thus of the life instinct, and as the antithesis of envy’. There is no political literature on gratitude. Political discourse more usually depends on creating resentment. But recognition of the blessing of gratitude can change your life - your relation to friends, and to those working in state social and medical services. It makes it possible to accept gifts - and one’s dependence on others.

 

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Why Churchill still matters: the power of the past and the postponement of the future (Soundings 70, Autumn 2018)

November 1, 2018

We live in a society which has become fearful of the future and of change, and instead seeks sanctuary in imagined and contested versions of the past. A highly successful Churchill industry taps into this mood, marketing and repackaging the man and his image. Boris Johnson’s Churchill biography is perhaps only the most overtly self-seeking of these efforts. Most of the industry concentrates on Britain’s darkest hour in the second world war: the Churchill of this period invokes a particular idea of Britain, as a place of purpose, moral certainty and national calling - the idealised conservative nation. But these ideas are losing their purchase. Underneath the current public crises of the contemporary Conservative Party sits a longer-term set of issues: what constituencies and social forces does it represent? what sort of Britain is it championing? The answers we need now and for the future are not to be found in the past - and this also applies to the Labour Party. To search for a politics based on past heroes only serves to throw a light on the depth of crisis we are in.

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London’s nocturnal queer geographies (Soundings 70, Autumn 2018)

November 1, 2018

London’s LGBTQ+ s communities are rapidly losing their nightlife premises. There was a stark drop of 58 per cent between 2006 and 2017, partly because of property development and processes of gentrification. Behind this headline statistic there is a more complex picture of differential access to nightlife within the LGBTQ+ communities, and the article reflects on what exactly has been lost, and why. How are past and present struggles embedded in the fabric of night-spaces? How important have these been to constructions of individual and collective identity?

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Death by a thousand cuts: the story of privatising public education in the USA (Soundings 70, Autumn 2018)

November 1, 2018

The strong commitment of Americans to public education has been under assault since the resurgence of laissez-faire economics in the 1980s and the decline of government commitment to racial integration. The right’s education reform movement has run an ongoing campaign to convince Americans that public schools are failing and win support for policies that transfer public resources to privately run schools. It has also organised massive funding for political candidates who support privatisation. Two key policies have been at the centre of this strategy - the setting up of charter schools and the promotion of publicly funded voucher schemes. Both these policies continue to be heavily supported by the right, even though the evidence shows that they have resulted in academic failures, widespread corruption and increased racial and economic segregation.

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Two poems (Soundings 70, Autumn 2018)

November 1, 2018

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Reviews (Soundings 70, Autumn 2018)

November 1, 2018

David Featherstone reviews Stefan Collini, Speaking of Universities, Verso 2017.
Daryl Leeworthy reviews Hywel Francis, Stories of Solidarity, Y Lolfa 2018. 

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Mind the gap: the neoliberal assault on further, adult and vocational education (Soundings 70, Autumn 2018)

November 1, 2018

Further, adult and vocational education has always been marginalised, reflecting the divide between academic and vocational education, and the low esteem attached to the latter. This meant that in the 1990s it was possible to carry out neoliberal policies in the further education sector that would have been politically inconceivable in schools. Following the 1992 Further and Higher Education Act, colleges were ‘incorporated’ - taken away from local government control and set up as competing businesses in a quasi-market. The focus of colleges was turned away from the needs of local communities. Any progressive alternative to this system will depend on overcoming the old division between academic and vocational education and instituting comprehensive provision for 16-19-year-olds. Meanwhile further education colleges and adult provision should be fundamentally reorganised, and returned to some form of local or regional government ownership and control.

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The future of mental health services: the organising challenge ahead (Soundings 70, Autumn 2018)

November 1, 2018

We are still failing to protect our mental health services and the people who deliver them. One central reason for current problems is the overwhelming focus of the service on Increased Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), the NHS’s largest mental health programme. The ‘evidence base’ for this programme’s effectiveness has been established through the widespread use of performance data, drawn from a system that has itself become highly contested. IAPT is also a key component within the government’s austerity programme and its plans for the introduction of the new ‘fitness for work’ welfare assessment process. And it is also an enabler of the opening up of the mental health sector to outside providers, partly because it paves the way towards a downgrading of jobs. It also fits perfectly with a preoccupation with financial targets and performance indicators that reflect efficiency within the service rather than clinical outcomes. To begin to address all this, there is a need for a public inquiry into the current regime of performance management and the IAPT model, and the development of a new network that can create a platform for national engagement on the key issues.

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Survival Surgery (Soundings 70, Autumn 2018)

November 1, 2018

Survival Surgeries: Working on the Healthcare Frontline

Whether you’re a self-employed therapist or a nurse working in old age care, Survival Surgeries are a simple way for you to build your capacity to address workplace problems. This model has been developed by Surviving Work, working with health workers in diverse settings, based on the principles of adult education and using tried and tested activities that have brought about real change in workplaces all over the world.

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Editorial: the scandal of contemporary universities (Soundings 69, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

The financialisation of the universities in the past decade or so represents a defining element in the organisation of higher education. Nowhere was this more evident than in the state selling off the student debt to private investors, reducing personal investments in tertiary education to the status of junk bonds. Ideologues in central government and amongst the makers of public opinion, as well as some managers within the universities themselves, have laboured to make all this happen. They are not shy about what they do, and see no cause for shame. They live by the ethic of utilitarianism and are more than ready for the battle to be taken to the universities.

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On work and machines: a labour process of agility (Soundings 69, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

Industry 4.0 involves the use of big data for smarter decision-making and cost efficiencies (including decisions on shedding labour and how to distribute work); the use of advanced analytics to improve product development; a massive increase in human-machine interfaces; and the development of digital-to-physical transfer, i.e. 3-D printing and rapid prototyping. The underlying aim of firms adopting these technologies is of course to increase competitiveness and profit. The main focus of this essay is a discussion about the effects of these changes within the labour process - the management of production and the impact this has on workers.

Part of the Critical Terms series. 

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Policies for inclusive economic growth (Soundings 69, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

The case for inclusive economic growth set out in this article is underpinned by the two main arguments outlined in its companion piece, published in Soundings 68.1. These are, firstly, that the best policies for economic growth are inclusive: there is no trade-off between pro-growth and pro-equality policies; and, secondly, that reducing gender inequalities is itself an important means of increasing economic growth: gender is at the centre of processes of production, as well as (re)distribution.

This article is part of the Soundings Futures series. 
   

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The problem that is Labour local government (Soundings 69, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

Note that word ‘is’ in the title of this piece. We are not dealing with problems ‘for’ Labour when it controls local authorities in the UK. Rather the focus is on the problem that such control poses for a party which has twice elected Corbyn as leader and is attempting to break with the direction taken by Labour under Blair and Brown. This article asks whether it is possible for a Corbyn-led Labour Party to make a difference to twenty-first century local government politics.

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Agonies of pluralism: Germany and the New Right (Soundings 69, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

Germany’s centripetal politics won out again in the saga following the federal elections in September 2017. But, despite the outcome - a third round of grand coalition under Angela Merkel - the emergence of the AfD as a parliamentary party and as the largest party of opposition places beyond doubt the unsustainability of the status quo. Taking just over a million votes from the CDU/CSU and just over half a million from the SPD, as well as 1.5 million votes from previous abstainers, the AfD was the direct beneficiary of GroKo’s diminishing appeal - which at 53.4 per cent now barely deserves its predicate. The altered party landscape is the predictable culmination of the misfit between the centrist logic of German politics and the conservative groundswell in public opinion, which has been long in germination but was catalysed by the events of 2015-16. Contrary to The Economist’s reassurances, Germany is not just going through a periodic bout of disorientation. Rather, this is a ‘Republic in ferment’.

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Reshaping common sense: management, power and the allure of medical leadership in England’s NHS (Soundings 69, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

Leadership in the NHS is deemed necessary because medical science (in its broadest sense, including the knowledge and expertise of a range of expert disciplines) has developed beyond the organisational and management capacities of a health service designed when Penicillin was not yet in widespread use. Attempts to overcome this contradiction by deploying a market-oriented system of general management (New Public Management) have largely failed. This article will outline the historic development of both the medical work that the NHS does, and the ways in which that work is managed. It will then describe the leadership function as it is currently promoted in the NHS, before going on to discuss and evaluate leadership from the perspective of Gramsci’s ideas about the formation of a collective intellectual, and the transition by intellectuals from traditional to organic roles; and it will do so alongside a consideration of the characteristics of the ‘cadre’, as described by Göran Therborn.

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Review (Soundings 69, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

Andy Croft reviews Mike Morris, Tony Wailey and Andrew Davies (eds), Ten Years on the Parish: The Autobiography and Letters of George Garrett, Liverpool University Press 2017.

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Two poems (Soundings 69, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

Two poems by Omikemi: 
 - Salt
 - While She Waits for a Heart to Arrive (a prayer)

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‘An enormous sense of solidarity’: London and the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike (Soundings 69, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

In March 1984 over 150,000 miners walked out on strike against plans for widespread pit closures, in action supported by the National Union of Mineworkers. Alongside the dispute a large and diverse support movement developed, within Britain and internationally, which provided invaluable practical solidarity. Thousands of people collected food and money, joined picket lines and demonstrations, organised meetings, travelled to mining areas and hosted activists from the coalfields in their homes. The three personal testimonies brought together here, extracts from a recently produced booklet on London and the 1984-5 miners’ strike, give a powerful sense of the depth and diversity of that solidarity.

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Democracy in the making (Soundings 69, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

 ‘The audacity is to dare to hope when there seems so little reason to hope.’ 

Lynne Segal talks to Jo Littler about Segal’s books Radical Happiness: Moments of Collective Joy and Changing Masculinities: Changing Men, as well as contemporary feminism, the Labour Party, and being an activist and academic. 

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Conversations with Stuart Hall: the tenacity of race (Soundings 69, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

There has rarely been a day in recent years when I haven’t thought of Stuart Hall’s work. Its manifold meanings and implications are startlingly resonant today, in a variety of national and global contexts: Britain and the United States, the Caribbean, of course, but also India, and, more broadly, Asia and Africa.

 

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Conversations with Stuart Hall: the inheritors of ’68 (Soundings 69, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

Apart from the overthrow of the Ayub Khan regime in Pakistan, the movements of 1968 won no direct political victory. But, as Stuart Hall reminded us, one should not confuse the outcome of an event with its impact. The conjuncture which saw the desegregation of the American south, the bringing down of two presidents, and the birth of contemporary feminism, did indeed emancipate individuals. But those gains were won through collective protest, community and solidarity, by movements that were the enemy of the market state.

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Editorial: politics and place (Soundings 68, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

The election of Richard Leonard MSP as Scottish Labour leader and recent disputes over the Haringey Development Vehicle in London may at first seem disconnected events. However, both developments speak to key ways in which the complex relations of contemporary politics are being - or have the potential of being - re-drawn, as well as some of the challenges of doing so. They also raise broader sets of questions for the left about the relationships between the local and national, across the different countries of the UK.

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Interview: Where the fires are (Soundings 68, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

Wendy Brown interview with Jo Littler

The disintegration of the social in the USA (and elsewhere) creates the need for a strong central authority to secure order and boundaries. Hence the rise of ‘libertarian authoritarianism’, a novel political formation that is an inadvertent effect of neoliberal rationality. In this context Trump and other right-wing populist forces can be seen as part of a further reconfiguration of neoliberalism. White identity politics and male identity politics play a key role within this. In the face of this persistence and resilience of neoliberalism, we need, not hope, but ‘grit, responsibility and determination’. Small acts of local resistance have an important role to play here, and so too does political theory.

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The final chapter for North Sea oil (Soundings 68, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

To keep to two degrees of global warming requires leaving 80 per cent of known fossil fuel deposits unburnt. A decision is therefore needed about which deposits to leave where they are, and North Sea oil, reserves of which are in any case running out, is a strong candidate for being left. This should be accomplished through using some of the remaining revenue generated by the oil to secure a just transition before closing down the pipelines. In other words, there should be a (Scottish) state- managed solution to the problem of the inevitable collapse of the industry. Market- based solutions to climate change will not work: they leave decisions in the hands of oil companies that will go bankrupt if they do not exploit their reserves, and will abandon workers when sources dry up.

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Grime Labour (Soundings 68, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

Grime’s cross-race working-class appeal is connected to a wider picture of changing identi cations in urban areas, particularly in the inner cities, the site of the emergence of ‘new urban ethnicities’ and ‘neighbourhood nationalisms’. Corbyn’s leadership makes it possible to link with this constituency. The response by Corbyn and grime artists to the Grenfell disaster further illuminates this shared link with contemporary working-class neighbourhoods. Grime artists should be understood as organic intellectuals, taking on roles to represent the working class, theorise their position and offer them a means of political intervention. Unlike the Blair/Britpop relationship, grime artists’ endorsement of Corbyn is from the bottom up, and Corbyn engages directly both with musicians and the communities they come from.

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Eight years on the frontline of regeneration: ten lessons from the Enfield experiment (Soundings 68, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

The London Borough of En eld is a pioneering local entrepreneurial state. It has worked with businesses to improve the local retention of work and profit within the chain that supplies the borough in the foundational economy. And it has itself set up a number of entrepreneurial ventures. This article draws lessons from the successes and failures of ‘the Enfield experiment’. Perhaps the most optimistic lesson is that it is possible for local authorities to successfully run enterprises that benefit the local community, as with Enfield Innovations and Housing Gateway, property companies wholly owned by LBE that offer below market-cost housing, and Energetik, a plant which uses the burning of waste products to supply a district heating network.

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The Russian revolution and black radicalism in the United States (Soundings 68, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

After the first world war a new black radicalism emerged in the US, partly in response to the racism encountered by people emigrating to northern cities. These radicals rejected the passive and assimilationist politics of older organisations and made explicit links between class, race and capitalism. Race was central to their understandings of capitalism: it was a transnational term that linked slavery, colonialism, Jim Crow and capitalism. This was the context for black radical responses to the Russian revolution. Caribbean migrants were also centrally involved in the black socialist movement, and the pan-African internationalism of Garvey had some influence. For these radicals the racism of white workers was a serious impediment to class struggle, and black workers had an essential educational role to play in overcoming the limitations of their white colleagues.

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From dementia tax to a solution for social care (Soundings 68, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

Unlike the NHS, social care is both means- and needs-tested. Even Nye Bevin saw it as dealing with ‘the residual categories’ of people in need - older and disabled people, previously subject to the Poor Law - and its funding was from the beginning made dependent on resources. In a situation of chronic underfunding, the personal budget solution supported by disabled people has become an excuse to find fixes that make people responsible for their own care. But there has been no political will for the progressive wealth tax that could raise the extra funding required for a truly universal service. Yet social care could become a jewel in the service industry crown, an important part of an economy of care, and a creator of collective social wealth for society.

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Poems from prison (Soundings 68, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

This year, prison arts charity the Koestler Trust has published the first in a new biannual series of prison poetry anthologies, Koestler Voices: New Poetry from Prisons. The poems are selected from winning entries to the Koestler Trust’s annual competitions, all written by people who are or have been detained in the UK’s criminal justice system. Volume One is edited by Kate Potts and has a foreword from Benjamin Zephaniah. The two poems featured here are from this collection.

Between 1993 and 2017 the prison population in England and Wales more than doubled, rising from 41,561 to 86,256. Survivors of childhood abuse and those with drug problems and mental health issues are significantly overrepresented in the prison population. And incarceration figures reflect discrimination as well as deprivation: a 2016 government report found that black, Asian and minority ethnic people are more likely to be sentenced to prison for some crimes, such as driving, public order and drug offences. There have also been drastic cuts to spending on the prison and probation service, and record-high levels of self-harm incidents, and attacks on both staff and fellow prisoners. At such a time creative work that emerges from and responds to the UK prison system seems more vital than ever.

Though fantastically varied in terms of style and subject-matter, the poems in Koestler Voices are shaped by the constraints of time and space imposed by prison life. Constraints are a consideration of all poetry: the white space of the page, the rhythm and time of the line, the limitations of language itself. But prison poetry tends to concern itself with the regaining of power, the figurative breaking out of or transcendence of physical incarceration. As Koestler anthology poet Stuart explains, ‘I wrote to get out of the state of mind of being in prison’.

Kate Potts

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The causes of inequality: why social epidemiology is not enough (Soundings 68, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

This (sympathetic) critique of Richard Wilkinson’s and Kate Pickett’s equality thesis argues that although the strong correlation they make between degrees of income inequality and the distribution of health and other measures of well-being makes an important argument for equality, its problem is that it focuses on correlations rather than causes: inequalities and their correlated harms are seen as respective causes and effects of each other. It is more useful to see both of them as the effects of entities which do possess causal powers, namely social structures and agents. To challenge inequality requires a recognition of the structures of power that produce it. The critical sociology that analyses power in this way has been displaced, however, and thus epidemiology has become the main sociological champion of equality.

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Review: The interior world of the cult (Soundings 68, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

Roshi Naidoo reviews Alexandra Stein’s Terror, Love and Brainwashing: Attachment in cults and totalitarian systems, Routledge 2017

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Contemporary African art in Paris: from Magiciens de la Terre to Afriques Capitales (Soundings 68, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

This article looks at four international ‘mega-shows’ of work by African and African- diasporan contemporary visual artists that have been exhibited in France over the last few decades, culminating in Afriques Capitales in 2017. These ground-breaking group exhibitions have showcased a wide range of paintings, sculptures, film and photography, mixed-media exhibits and installations. Each has made its own contribution to a better understanding of complex issues of race, cultural identity, citizenship, sense of place, nationhood and notions of belonging, and shown how these can be conceptualised, represented and communicated in the form of a fine-art showcase.

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The concept of inclusive economic growth (Soundings 68, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

What would economic growth for people look like? Here the answer is sought through rethinking core economic concepts as part of an effort to change the narrative on economic growth and equality. Central to this a repudiation of the claim that there is a trade-off between growth and equality. Social inclusion is necessary for (sustainable) economic growth, while economic growth is needed for societal transformation. Gender equality is intricately interwoven in this agenda. Other conceptual shifts are outlined that will help to embed equality and inclusion throughout economic production and in the wider society.

This article is part of the Soundings Futures series.

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Popular political cultures and the Caribbean carnival (Soundings 67, Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

As a huge, Caribbean-led, culturally hybridised, inter-ethnic festival of popular artistic creativity and social critique, the Caribbean carnival deserves much more serious attention than it has so far received. The media tends to reduce carnival to glamorous female bodies, jerk chicken, soca music and outlandish costumes. We aim to demonstrate here that there are elements of Caribbean carnival that carry a radical message, support the display of bodies of every type, and present costumes that carry important social messages, often explaining historical events and commenting on injustice. The interpretation of carnival as performative and playful is incontestable, we suggest, but what is less commonly analysed is the play of power,

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Music, politics and identity: from Cool Britannia to Grime4Corbyn (Soundings 67, Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

Many theorists have studied the relationship between politics and culture, from Gramsci and Adorno to Stuart Hall and Raymond Williams. But less attention has been given to the cultural role of music than to that of literature, film or visual art. Indeed, popular music and the commercial music industry have sometimes been dismissed altogether as a distracting or corrupting aspect of ‘mass culture’. More sympathetic writers have discerned in both popular and subcultural forms of music a capacity to reflect, reinforce or resist hegemonic ideas and to articulate a liberatory politics. This article seeks to address some recent aspects of the dynamic between politics and popular music, and its interaction with the construction and contestation of both class and national British identity, before suggesting grounds for optimism on the prospects for a renewed relationship between these elements.

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The continuing battle of Grangemouth: an interview with Mark Lyon (Soundings 67, Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

Mark Lyon talks to Sally Davison and David Featherstone about his book The Battle of Grangemouth and the ongoing conflicts at the refinery and chemicals plant.

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Workers’ control in Britain: problems and possibilities (Soundings 67, Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

The banking and speculators’ crash of 2008 was a body blow for this neoliberal era, and, notwithstanding the post-crash Cameron/Osborne austerity response, the future direction of the UK economy and society is now all to be played for (though May herself appears paralysed about a decision on what direction to take, largely because of the splits in the Tory Party). The argument in this article is that the next era must surely involve - at centre stage - the development of a productive, self-reliant economy built on manufacturing and balanced trade; and that such a strategy is indissolubly linked with the need for a much greater involvement than hitherto of workers’ representation in the running of the economy. The workers’ control debate must therefore be understood within the wider context of what sort of economy the UK wishes to develop and, in particular, the debate about rebalancing the economy and for a UK industrial strategy.

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Popular perceptions of disrupted childhoods (Soundings 67, Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

For decades, public policy-making has fundamentally failed ‘looked-after’ children within the care of local governments across the UK. The care system very rarely properly provides for the vulnerable children they take into public ownership; and among its most critical failures are its apparent inability to provide stable living situations, appropriate pastoral care or family mediation. Perhaps unsurprisingly in view of this lack of will to provide the resources that might be able to break the cycles of poverty and abuse, research shows that children who are victims of disrupted parenting are disproportionately susceptible to what are ambiguously-termed ‘poor outcomes’ - as described across government and academic literature on institutional childcare. The list of poor outcomes includes many behaviours that are deemed unconducive to social cohesion - such as addiction, welfare dependency, criminality, mental illness and learning difficulties. (It is not a coincidence that researchers also find that these ‘poor outcomes’ are also disproportionately prevalent within the working class more broadly. Popular perceptions of the working class are strikingly similar to those of children in foster care and other disrupted parenting situations.)

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Critiquing the media: Stuart Hall on television (Soundings 67, Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

The work that Stuart Hall made for television - the Open Door programme It Ain’t Half Racist Mum, made in 1979, and the 1991 BBC series Redemption Song, on the history of the Caribbean - still has a great deal to teach us despite the degree to which the media landscape has changed since these programmes were made.1 These programmes speak of the media from within, but also speak back to it, using its specific language and rhetoric. Here I want to look at them as a way of revisiting relationships between cultural studies, media critique and media production. If anything, the ease of digital production and the accessibility of the media archive make Hall’s fusion of media critique and innovative practice all the more salient today, especially at a time when racism and the populist right are benefitting precisely from the kinds of representation that Hall’s work critiques. Hall often invoked Antonio Gramsci’s slogan for hard times, ‘pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will’, and I want to advocate here a greater will for the work of media activism as part of our intellectual practice, including experiments in form, taking inspiration from Hall’s embodied broadcasts.

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Citizenship and colonialism (Soundings 67, Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

The core ideals of liberal citizenship are compelling, but they are often lost in the real-world systems ostensibly built upon them. One underlying reason for this is the relationship between the coming of liberal citizenship and the period of colonisation, slavery and revolution. Unpicking the history of this relationship is therefore crucial for our understanding of the limitations of contemporary notions of liberal citizenship - and the possibilities for fixing it. The aim of this article is to make a contribution to this task.

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Review: Plumbing the depths of public discourse on immigration (Soundings 67, Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

Rima Saini reviews Go Home? The Politics of Immigration Controversies by Hannah Jones, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Gargi Bhattacharyya, William Davies, Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Kirsten Forkert, Emma Jackson and Roiyah Saltus.

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Poem: To my son Yacine (Soundings 67, Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

Abdellatif Laâbi is the major Francophone voice of Moroccan poetry today. Shaped by political struggle and the pain of prison and exile, Laâbi’s expressive simplicity reflects a resilient, all-embracing spirit. This is a poetry of protest - internally tumultuous yet delicate verse that grapples with political and spiritual oppression.

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Editorial (Soundings 67, Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

Editorial by Sally Davison for Soundings 67.

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What has happened to our schools? (Soundings 67, Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

This is the first instalment of an article on education for the Soundings Futures series. Its main focus is on schools (since university education was the subject of a previous instalment). Within this, in the discussion on curricula and assessment in Part II there is a greater focus on primary education, although the developments we discuss have deeply influenced the entire school system in England. This first instalment discusses the changes introduced into the system since the 1980s. Part I of this article looks at the underlying ideas that drove the changes, while Part II looks at the effects of the changes introduced in the various educational reforms that followed on from the major change of direction signalled by the Education Act of 1988. A second instalment, to be published in 2018, will set out how we envisage a progressive reform of the present system, to embody more democratic, egalitarian, and imaginative conceptions of what our schools could and should be.

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The Pyongyang paradox (Soundings 67, Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

Pyongyang is trapped in a paradox. The very measures it feels to be essential to the ensuring of its long-term survival are precisely those that are putting it in short-term peril. Kim Jong Un’s Byungjin line - which gives equal importance to the building of the nuclear deterrent and the development of the economy - is designed to provide the security and space necessary to allow time for the economy to grow. The ultimate intention is to transform North Korea into a variant of Vietnam or China. Yet the nuclear strand of this policy makes the country vulnerable to a ‘preventive’ strike by Washington and its ‘Coalition of the Willing’ (which would devastate Northeast Asia, not just North Korea).

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A letter from Catalonia (Soundings 67, Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

In the international media, the current situation in Catalonia is often explained with reference to the Franco era and the suppression of Catalan language and culture during that time. Commentators also refer to the fact that during the Spanish Civil War the majority of Catalans fought on the side of the Republican government, which meant that after Franco won the war, oppression in Catalonia was especially brutal: large numbers of Catalans were imprisoned, disappeared and killed by the Franco regime.

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Trumpocalypse now (Soundings 66, )

August 1, 2017

Pity the liberals, so incapable of comprehending the meaning of Trump that they can’t even get their memes right. One that made the rounds in the aftershock of Trump’s election was a still from The Road, the 2009 film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel, in which Viggo Mortenson, wheeling a shopping trolley of possessions through the gathering nuclear winter, argues with his boy: ‘But son, her emails’. As with the election itself, the joke’s on us. The Road was filmed, in part, in rustbelt areas of Pennsylvania and West Virginia that had been devastated by decades of Clintonian neoliberalism. These bleak landscapes of post-industrial collapse are the condition and not the consequence of Trump’s

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Feminism for the 99%: towards a populist feminism? (Soundings 66, )

August 1, 2017

As they seek to find a place in and/or confront the contemporary populist zeitgeist, feminists supporting intersectional justice-claims face very real, destabilising and contradictory challenges. Intersectional feminists recognise race, class, gender, sexuality, disability and legal status as interlocking systems of oppression, and pay attention to the ways in which these particular intersections generate agency and solidarity for different kinds of women. Populism, on the other hand, is a political strategy that seeks to articulate popular grievances in a way that can unify a ‘sovereign people’ against corrupt and self-serving political, economic and cultural elites. It is less interested in recognising difference within its construction of the people.

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Confidence man: breaking the spell of Trump the brand (Soundings 66, )

August 1, 2017

In the days following Donald Trump’s election, I found myself sporadically weeping. I teared up while speaking in front of a room full of students. I wept at the grocery store and at the doctor’s office. My emotional reaction seemed extreme. But then friends told me that they too had had unaccountable emotional responses to the election - tears, shaking, insomnia. After the first six months of Trump’s administration, the tears have been replaced by a terrifying kind of vertigo for many of us, induced by a dizzying array of racist and sexist appointments, postures and policies and a steady barrage of self-aggrandising lies, incompetence, petulance, baseless accusations, wastefulness and self indulgence, as well as the certain knowledge that, behind it all, there is just … nothing.

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Trump and Latin America: continuity and change (Soundings 66, )

August 1, 2017

Trump’s chaotic foreign policy signals more difficulties for the left in Latin America.

The election of Donald Trump to the US presidency came as a shock to progressive governments and social movements south of the Rio Grande, particularly as it took place in the wake of a number of successes by conservative forces in the region, and at a time when there had already been a substantial strengthening of US efforts to reassert its hegemony: US-backed destabilisation plans had by then started to pay substantial dividends in a series of countries that had not long before been widely regarded as having broken from the Washington Consensus as part of an unstoppable Latin American dynamic.

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Reviews (Soundings 66, )

August 1, 2017

Antje Scharenberg reviews Daphne Büllesbach, Marta Cillero and Lukas Stolz (eds), Shifting Baselines of Europe: New Perspectives beyond Neoliberalism and Nationalism, Transcript 2017.

Giorgia Doná reviews Nikesh Shukla (ed), The Good Immigrant, Unbound 2016.

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Three poems inspired by David Bowie (Soundings 66, )

August 1, 2017

Three poems from Alex Bell and John Canfield’s forthcoming The Rialto pamphlet, featuring poetry inspired by the albums and soundtracks of David Bowie.

 

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Finding uncommon ground: working-class identity politics after Labourism (Soundings 66, )

August 1, 2017

For many on the British left, ‘identity politics’ emerged out of the radical student and youth cultures of the late 1960s, at a time when the onward march of Labour was beginning to grind to a halt in the face of the first wave of de-industrialisation. Identity politics was essentially about ‘non-class issues’ - about sexuality, gender, generation, ethnicity and race.

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Editorial (Soundings 66, )

August 1, 2017

Editorial by Sally Davison for Soundings 66.

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Are real changes now possible: where next for Corbyn and Labour? (Soundings 66, )

August 1, 2017

How do we build on the hopes raised in the June election? Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign, and its outcome, is without doubt the most positive development that has taken place in British politics for more than twenty-five years - since Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party. The reason for this is that it is the first substantial challenge to neoliberalism that has emerged from Labour in all those years. Corbyn’s campaign has now demonstrated that a politics based on the rejection of neoliberalism - the contemporary version of ‘full capitalism’ - and the development of an alternative to it - is capable of electoral success.

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Election 2017: Beginning to see the light? (Soundings 66, )

August 1, 2017

We invited a range of contributors to reflect on the results of the June 2017 election, to think about what the results mean for the future of the country, and what we might do to consolidate and develop the gains they represent.

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The alt-right: reactionary rehabilitation for white masculinity (Soundings 66, )

August 1, 2017

US alt-right extremism is a logical consequence of mainstream neo-conservatism.

 

After the 2016 presidential election, as the US media scrambled for ways to understand the sources of Trump’s support, there was a dramatic proliferation on news sites of profiles of figures from the alt-right such as Milo Yiannopolous and Richard Spencer - many of them alarmingly deferential in tone. Almost immediately, however, there was an understandable backlash from liberal commentators and activists, urging journalists to stop using the euphemistic ‘alt-right’ moniker and to instead refer to the loosely-defined digital subculture to which the label was attached as ‘neo-Nazi’.

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Generation: the politics of patriarchy and social change (Soundings 66, )

August 1, 2017

In this first instalment of our Soundings series on critical terms, we look at the idea of ‘generation’, a term which has become highly prevalent within political discourse since the financial crisis.1 As with all the concepts in this series, the idea of generation is differently mobilised by different political actors. Right-wing thinkers use generation in a sense that can be traced back to Edmund Burke to mean the transmission of property and culture through time, while other commentators draw on meanings derived from Mannheim to refer to the experiences of particular cohorts at times of rapid political change. For activists on the left, it is important to distinguish between these different connotations of generation. The Burkean approach has regressive implications, for example in the justification of austerity as a way of protecting future generations from debt; and the Mannheimian understanding, although not as conservative, needs to be connected to an intersectional analysis that looks at other identity markers alongside those of age - such as class, race, gender and sexuality - so as to avoid flattening differences within cohorts and impeding solidarities between generations.

Part of the Critical Terms series. 

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Stuart Hall and political writing (Soundings 65, )

May 1, 2017

Stuart Hall’s political writing, over a period of many years, provided immensely valuable political ideas and analysis. His notion of conjunctural analysis – exploring the nature of the specific shifts and currents that coalesce into a particular moment or settlement – is closely connected to the thinking of Antonio Gramsci, which offered a way of holding on to the dimensions of Marxism that he found of greatest value while rejecting the orthodoxies of economic determinism. In many ways Hall worked as an historian of the present, and this, combined with his very expansive view of what constituted the field of politics, enabled him to perceive very early on the break with the social-democratic consensus that was represented by Thatcherism; while his understanding of the importance of culture meant that he was also prescient in his understanding of the emergence of populist authoritarianism, and the central role played within this by race. 

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Editorial: the populist wave (Soundings 65, )

May 1, 2017

Editorial on populism and alliances for Soundings 65 by Ben Little.

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An American populist in the White House (Soundings 65, )

May 1, 2017

Trump is a particular type of reactionary American populist. The article tracks the history of American populism beginning with the formation of the People’s Party (also called the Populist Party) in 1891 as an agrarian movement based on anger of the Little Man against the western elite. Prairie populism became an abiding influence in American politics, largely because of the successful repression of socialism: working-class militancy was crushed ruthlessly in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century USA. The New Deal was an establishment response to the populist threat much more than to any fear of socialism. Trump is also part of the US huckster tradition, whereby collectivism finds expression in the shape of a self-invented messiah, who assumes the mantle of an anti-system reformer while seeing no problem with mingling business and politics to personal advantage. Trump in power is operating through a kind of right-wing Leninism, with a group of close allies led by Stephen Bannon, who are outside the Republican Party establishment and are prepared to enact radical measures of conservatism and authoritarianism. Defeating this force will require an alliance based on support for American constitutionalism and democratic traditions, and on finding ways to detach white nationalism from Trumpism’s false promises of economic justice.

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Roundtable: Alliances, fronts, parties and populism (Soundings 65, )

May 1, 2017

A discussion on what kinds of politics can create the best challenge to the right. The first contribution charts the successes and failures of the popular front policies of the 1930s, which were based on three key ingredients: narrative, organisation and the will to believe. The popular front narrative was based on the defining nature of the struggle of democracy against fascism; the organisation was largely provided by the Communist Party; the will to believe was more problematic, and poses the question of whether it is possible to construct a form of populism that does not involve costs that are scarcely less disastrous than those of fascism. The discussion then moves to parallels between the Popular Front in Spain and Syriza in Greece, both governmental alliances against a threat from the right. The question is posed of what kinds of alliances are acceptable in such situations, but there is also a discussion of how to construct a national popular politics: this is always something that emerges through a political process including the process of making alliances. Podemos is then discussed as a populist party that is actively seeking to construct a people – which for Podemos includes the act of constructing an enemy. Finally the discussion moves to a consideration of cross-class alliances, which are often seen as betrayals of the working class. One of the problems with this approach is that class structure is extremely complex, and it is difficult to read off what a pre-given class politics might consist of. It is also difficult to construct an alternative politics if factors other than class identification – for example nationalism – are discounted.

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The populist era (Soundings 65, )

May 1, 2017

We are living in an era that can be defined as populist – and that includes both right- and left-wing populism. The populist era signals the end of the neoliberal era and is formed directly in response to it. Populism is strongly linked to the idea of sovereignty, the idea that a people should be in control of a territory and the way it is governed. This is in contrast to a globalised world with no boundaries and hence no forms of protection against global flows. Globally orientated liberal politics was formed in opposition to what its theorists saw as the statism and authoritarianism of the social democratic era. But liberalism is itself now being superseded. The idea of popular sovereignty has been foundational to the left, and the left today needs to embrace this part of its heritage and forge a left populism that is capable of defending people against global capital. If it does not do so, right-wing populism will prevail – a populism based on nationalism and ethnicity, opposed to the other, as opposed to a left populism based on equality and opposed to global capital.

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Conjunctural analysis and the crisis of ideas (Soundings 65, )

May 1, 2017

Our new series, Soundings Critical Terms aims to explore and build on a range of theoretical resources that members of the editorial group have found helpful to their own understandings of politics. This article offers a framing statement for the series as whole, and makes a strong case for the place of conjunctural writing at the heart of the project. It looks at four key ways in which thinking conjuncturally can be of assistance to the left: as a means of analysis of periods of conjunctural crisis and contradiction; as an a priori necessity for effective political intervention; as a space open to bringing together longer trajectories of thought; and as an enabler of reflection on the shifting forces of socio-political histories. The aim is to begin to develop a rich toolkit of concepts, histories and understandings that enable us to think through what is possible, to determine the direction of future interventions, and to provide a space in which crucial differences and agreements within left activism can be explored. 

Part of the Critical Terms series. 

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Communism, democracy and the left (Soundings 65, )

May 1, 2017

There is currently a lot of frustration with the failures of liberal democracy, and a turn by some on the left towards a politics that eschews liberal democracy in favour of a radical politics based on ideas similar to those of communism. But a key lesson from the history of communism is that one of the main causes of its failure was its attitude towards democracy. In countries ruled by communist governments, the party was seen as embodying the working class and hence democracy, and all other standpoints were repressed. Waite analyses how the repressive structures of state communism arose, before going on to discuss ways in which Gramscian communists sought to rethink issues of democracy and to shape new communist oppositional practices within liberal democracies.

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Hegemonies are not totalities! Repoliticising poverty as a site of resistance (Soundings 65, )

May 1, 2017

Taking inspiration from the idea that hegemony is always constructed and can always be challenged, and that it is a central part of politics to contest common sense views, the authors contest common sense ideas of poverty, which have naturalised it, and represented it as a result of individual flaws rather than of a system that is premised on inequality. They argue that poverty is relational, produced through intersecting power relations – including of race, caste, class, identity and gender – and seek to counter the theoretical closures in current, ‘speakable’ poverty knowledge. A key way to challenge these ideas is through ‘unspeakable’ poverty politics, as enacted by a number of groups discussed here, mostly composed of excluded, illegible subjects and their allies, who refuse existing political and economic orders and systems of social valuation. The authors also look at anti-poverty organisations that work across difference and geography. They argue that it is important to analyse how ‘thinkability’ obscures political imaginations and limits potential alliances. Unthinkable politics can help challenge the categories and norms through which neoliberal governance is maintained.

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Memories of Doreen Massey (Soundings 65, )

May 1, 2017

by James Marriott, Beatrix Campbell, Hilary Cottam, Chantal Mouffe, Ares Kalandides and the Milton Keynes postgrads

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Reviews (Soundings 65, )

May 1, 2017

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Poems: Thunder raining poison (Soundings 65, )

May 1, 2017

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Regional inequality, regional policy and progressive regionalism (Soundings 65, )

May 1, 2017

Part of the Soundings Futures series, the first part of this article is an assessment of the scale of regional inequalities in Britain and the failures of the orthodox policy initiatives that have been advanced to address them. The main weaknesses of successive policy shifts have been that: overall expenditure has simply been inadequate to the tackle the scale of the problem; any expenditure on regional aid has been vastly out-weighed by other forms of government expenditure which tend to favour the more economically advantaged parts of the country; regional problems have been attributed to underlying deficits in lagging regions rather than being understood in terms of unequal power relationships between regions, or more fundamental aspects of the centralised system of British political economy. The Northern Powerhouse model shares aspects of all these policy flaws. In response, the article sets out some elements of an alternative agenda, based upon a fundamental reshaping of the structure of economic governance. Measures proposed include: much greater real political decentralisation and new forms of regional governance; an industrial policy focused on job creation in industries that offer middle-level skilled jobs, such as manufacturing, construction and healthcare; a policy of inclusive growth - one that seeks growth that promotes good quality jobs and poverty reduction; a geographical shift in central government investment patterns and a relocation of good quality government jobs to the regions.

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Rethinking public ownership (Soundings 64, Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

A roundtable looking at new approaches to public ownership and exploring some of the alternative institutional forms that have been developed in the recent past. Contributors argue for a break with the hierarchical and managerial approaches that blighted previous forms of state ownership. The alternative forms they look at include remunicipalisation initiatives in Germany, especially in Berlin, and initiatives across the world in places where existing state forms are not delivering basic necessities such as health care - as in Greece and Latin America, and with black organisations in the USA. One theme that emerges is that neoliberalism is not invincible, and another is that processes of experimentation can be enriched if they learn from the tensions of past left projects. 

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Beyond mere equality Рa politics of class analysis not ‘evidence’ (Soundings 64, Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

Recent years have seen the emergence of a politics of ‘fairness’, partly inspired by the work of Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett and by the tax justice lobby. The problem is that a rhetoric of fairness allows a shift of emphasis away from equality and the idea of exploitation of one class by another. According to Edward Thompson’s conception of Experience I and Experience II, it is when the experience of exploitation breaks through socially mediated versions of reality that people open up to the ideas of socialism. The potential active agents of socialism are people in the top fifty per cent of income distribution but outside the top decile, whose standards of living are currently being eroded. These are the modern version of the labour aristocracy. The radical reformism of Old Labour was a means for resolving a crisis in industrial capitalism. The current task is the articulation of a programme for resolving a crisis in post-industrial capitalism. For this fairness is not enough. We need to take on the exploiters and change the balance in the allocation of the social product, away from the exploiters and towards those who produce it - class war, even if simply a war of position.

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‘Of course we do’: inequality, the family, and the spell of social mobility (Soundings 64, Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

Social mobility has been announced as a goal by most recent incoming prime ministers, including Theresa May, whose espousal of grammar schools is supposed to promote mobility. Social immobility – sometimes known as ‘class fate’ – is indeed a problem, but nothing will change until there is a recognition that inequality of outcome is a problem in itself, and that tackling intergenerational inequality means doing something about the handing on of family privilege. Current orthodoxies – common sense – about equality and the family are a hindrance to this recognition. Particularly through education, those in a position to give advantages to their children will almost always do so, and this reproduces privilege across the generations. Given unequal life chances and an unequal society, privilege and power will continue to flow through the family and into the next generation.

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A tale of three disputes: junior doctors against the government 2015-2016 (Soundings 64, Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

This analysis of the collapse of the junior doctor’s strike of 2015-6 argues that a key problem for junior doctors was that the dispute involved three conflicts rolled into one, making it difficult to settle but also impossible to sustain. The conflicts were over the changes to what is considered a normal working week in the proposed new contract, as well as other pressures on junior doctors, who are at risk of becoming a high-end precariat; the strains currently experienced in the NHS due to government limits on its funding and the pressure for a ‘seven-day NHS’; and changing patterns of medical work for doctors in training. The strategy of the junior doctors is discussed, including their difficulty in separating out their own battle for better conditions and the wider issues of NHS viability. The ending of the strike without an agreed settlement is problem for the prestige of the BMA, and does not bode well for morale among junior doctors.

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Poems about migration (Soundings 64, Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

Karen McCarthy Woolf and Sophie Herxheimer were both invited to make work on the theme of migration as part of a project in the National Maritime Museum running in their RE*THINK studio and education space during 2015. Herxheimer’s work was as an artist, to listen to visitors and draw their stories of home. McCarthy Woolf’s was a longer writer’s residency, and she made many responses to the questions the theme raises, drawing from her own experience as well as the continuing unbearable news of the current crisis facing people globally, displaced by war. She looked at the squeezes put on London too, by class war, in her poems about gentrification, as well as the different waves of refugees and migrants historically, including her father, with a long, moving poem, Voyage, about the ship he arrived on from Jamaica in 1957. This year they collaborated on a pamphlet that contains some of their work from the RE*THINK space. Also called Voyage, it contains seven new poems and an essay by Karen, and eighteen stories collected and drawn live by Sophie. This is available from the National Maritime Museum for a £10 donation, which will be split between the South London Refugee Association and the cost of printing. 

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Editorial: critical times (Soundings 64, Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

The September 2016 re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, with a renewed and increased mandate, was a significant political event, which should not be overshadowed by recent electoral successes by the populist right. On the contrary, these successes make it all the more important to understand the challenges facing the left. It is crucial that we succeed in making connections with an electorate that appears to be turning away from the left as represented by the old social democratic establishment. This is particularly important in the harsh context of the increasingly hard-right political project that is being mainstreamed in the rhetoric of Theresa May and her government. That this mainstreaming of the hard right is being constituted through relations between figures such as Farage, Trump and Marine Le Pen makes it all the more urgent to analyse and contest the terms on which it is gaining ground. 

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The English NHS: from market failure to trust, professionalism and democracy (Soundings 64, Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

An extensive critique of the market conception of health provision, combined with a vision for an alternative way of running the health service. The failure of market ‘reforms’ cannot be addressed by tinkering with new models of provision. The 2012 Health and Social Care Act has not worked and needs to be repealed, especially considering that the Five Year Forward View, intended to circumvent the Act’s inadequacies, has created even more problems. Other measures needed are the termination of for-profit provision of clinical services; a restoration of trust in health professionals; the replacement of audits and penalties by a pro-active system of democratic accountability; and a much greater prominence for public health. Finally, adequate funding is needed: no amount of innovation or efficiency savings could make up for the current gap between what is needed and what is funded.

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After Brexit (Soundings 64, Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

Contributors discusses the European referendum form a number of different perspectives.

Marina Prentoulis argues that, since there was no indication before the referendum of what kind of Brexit was being voted on, democracy requires post-referendum public discussion of the terms of exit. Roshi Naidoo discusses the way the term white working class was used during the debates as a cover for racist attitudes towards immigration. Referring to the working class in this way allows those who are not working-class to dissociate themselves from visible racism. Danny Dorling argues that more subtlety is required in identifying the key demographics that voted for Brexit. Neither the North nor the working class made up the majority of Leave voters. He suggests that a key constituency were middle class older votes concerned about deteriorating health provision. Ash Ghadiali argues that the notion of a specifically British set of values not shared by others is a central factor in the promotion of racist attitudes. Teresa Piacentini writes about responses to migrants in Scotland, and argues that it is important to build bridges between communities on the ground, citing the Refuweegee initiative as an example. Richard Corbett looks at the many questions still needing to be answered about the future of Britain. Cian O’Callaghan and Mary Gilmartin look at the effects of Brexit for Ireland, including the policing of the EU border, the peace process and migration between the UK and the Republic. Rooham Jamali looks at social media commentary on the referendum. Nick Dearden discusses the history of trade deals and argues that the left needs a better worked out approach to trade and international agreements in the light of the colonisation of discontent with globalisation by the populist right.

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Living the crisis through ten moments (Soundings 64, Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

A personal account of key moments in the development of a black intellectual, and of the importance of the work of Stuart Hall in that development, told through ten ‘moments’. These include experiences of race and class in childhood, and first encounters with the higher educational establishment, and then the sustained engagement with Hall’s work through which Carrington was able to make sense of his own life and the world around him. He writes that without Hall’s work he would never have found his space within the academy.

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Contested spaces of hegemony: left alliances after the crisis. Is it possible to construct alliances in the new landscape of the left? (Soundings 63, Summer 2016)

July 1, 2016

This reflects on the insights that geography can bring to bear on discussions of hegemony. It draws heavily on the work of Doreen Massey, for whom this essay is a form of tribute. It shows how Massey was able to make a very specific contribution to discussions about the politics of a given moment (the conjuncture) through her insistence on including the specificities of place into the many overlapping levels that constitute a political moment. This can be seen in her work on London, in which she drew attention to its role as a city in shaping the emergence of neoliberalism, or her work on de-industrialisation, which showed how unequal regional development is driven by specific interest groups - as seen in the strikingly different kind of help offered by successive governments to the bankers of the City as compared with the steel workers of the de-industrialised regions. Drawing on this work, David Featherstone draws on this work to discuss the current political situation in the devolved nations, the Northern Powerhouse, and relationships between nationally based parties and the Labour Party.

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Wales, the Corbyn surge, and the direction of the democratic left (Soundings 63, Summer 2016)

July 1, 2016

Roundtable discussion discussing the prospects for social democracy in Wales and elsewhere in the wake of the Corbyn leadership victory. Was it a game-changer? Do political horizons remain much as they were? What are the prospects for progressive alliances, for example across Labour, Plaid and the Greens? Support for Labour more or less held up in the May 2016 Welsh Assembly elections, but this support is fragile; as in many de-industrialised areas, it is susceptible to a populist appeal to a sense of disenfranchisement and lack of control.

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Scotland and alternatives to neoliberalism (Soundings 63, Summer 2016)

July 1, 2016

Roundtable on Scottish politics that focuses on some of the absences within the independence campaign, and analyses the SNP’s inability to mount any real challenge to neoliberalism or austerity politics, in spite of its rhetoric: as one contributor argues, in many ways it resembles a tartan version of the Third Way. The contributors reflect on the ways in which race, class and gender figured during the campaign, and argue that perspectives based on acknowledging the importance of these differences can act as an important corrective to the idea that the Scottish establishment is in some way innately progressive.

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What would Rosa do? Co-operatives and radical politics (Soundings 63, Summer 2016)

July 1, 2016

The question of what co-operatives can contribute to the left is explored in the light of Rosa Luxemburg’s apparent rejection of reformist organisations in her ‘Reform or revolution’, written at the beginning of the early twentieth century. Drawing on interviews with worker co-operatives in the UK cultural industries, Sandoval teases out the politics of working in co-ops, and shows that, although the kinds of co-ops she is discussing tend to operate at the small-scale prefigurative level, they help open up the political spaces on which bigger political action can build - although this undoubtedly requires making connections both between individual co-ops and between co-ops and the wider left. Her conclusion is that different times require different tactics, and that, though Luxemburg would not have seen much value in co-ops solely as a form of prefigurative politics, she would have valued them if they could at the same time contribute to advancing the greater goal of building a radical alternative.

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Labour and cultural change (Soundings 63, Summer 2016)

July 1, 2016

This article looks at two key areas where Labour can contribute to cultural change - through the greater involvement of its own membership, and through campaigning to change the reality on the ground for those whose anger is currently being channelled by the populist right. The suggestion is that plans could be devised to involve a wide range of new members to become help buildpart of a direct or indirect party presence inside an array of important socially useful sectors. This would have the beneficial effect of involving more members, helping to change the culture of the party, and bringing a wide area of expertise to bear on issues of policy and practice. To counter the culture of populism, on the other hand, it is necessary that the wider social environment has to start to improve. This takes political will and real resources, but represents the sole effective remedy - alongside an associated culture based on egalitarian, as opposed to individualist and competitive, values. This cultural progress may best be advanced by a consistent emphasis on the main social challenges facing most people today, and by the interaction of people from widely different backgrounds as they seek to overcome these problems.

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On the borders of solidarity: ethics, power and immigration controls (Soundings 63, Summer 2016)

July 1, 2016

This article adopts a less commonly seen perspective on immigration controls, in considering the issue from an ethical standpoint. The argument is that imposing control on migrations is an act of power that excludes people from poorer parts of the world from the riches of the wealthy countries, even though those parts of the world have made a massive contribution to that wealth. Problems such as work insecurity and low pay are caused by powerful employers and states, not by migrant workers, which means that it is the powerful who must be called upon to address these problems: we should not be seeking to solve them at the expense of some of the weakest members of society. However complex the story about global economic power may be, we must find ways of telling that story so that people can see where the responsibility lies, and begin to replace fear with solidarity.

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Three Poems from Futures: Poetry of the Greek Crisis (Soundings 63, Summer 2016)

July 1, 2016

The poems in this collection (published by Penned in the Margins in 2015), even when speaking in a more personal tone and alluding to the crisis in an oblique fashion, tell a story which exceeds their original scope: the dense, cramped, often violent spaces which define and determine the context and the discourse articulated within them automatically connect the most personal struggles with the wider political context.

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Reviews (Soundings 63, Summer 2016)

July 1, 2016

‘Confiscating the nationalist halo’ by Scott Hames, reviewing Gerry Hassan, Independence of the Scottish Mind: Elite Narratives, Public Spaces and the Making of a Modern Nation, Palgrave Macmillan 2014.

‘Performing the national’ by Hannah Hamad, reviewing Raka Shome, Diana and Beyond: White Femininity, National Identity, and Contemporary Media Culture, University of Illinois Press 2014.

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Editorial (Soundings 63, Summer 2016)

July 1, 2016

We went to press the day after the referendum, which gave us little time for thinking about a response. This will be something we address in the next issue. In the mean time we hope that some of the articles in this issue offer ideas that can help us in the difficult days ahead.

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From the EU to Latin America: left populism and regional integration (Soundings 63, Summer 2016)

July 1, 2016

This article looks at different models of international regional co-operation, in light of the failures of the European Union, especially in relation to Greece. It asks if the European Union could look to Latin America for alternative kinds of regional development, drawing on the Latin American experience with regional associations such as Petrocaribe, CELAC and UNASUR. Regional associations in Latin America work co-operatively rather than through competition, and this was assisted by the left populist framework within which they had developed. Could a similar left populism could be forged at a European level, given that in the EU the enemy is internal (the casta, the banks, the Troika) rather than external?

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Doreen Massey (1944-2016): an appreciation (Soundings 63, Summer 2016)

July 1, 2016

A tribute to the work of geographer Doreen Massey, looking at her academic and political work, which were inextricably linked.

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The Asian Youth Movements: racism and resistance (Soundings 63, Summer 2016)

July 1, 2016

The Asian Youth Movements (AYMs) that emerged thirty years ago provide us with an example of the power of independent organisation and the possibility of fighting injustice and winning: these organisations, which arose primarily as self-defence campaigns against the racism experienced by Asian communities from both the state and the general population, gave black people a chance to challenge discrimination in their own voice, and, at their most effective moments, expressed the value of broad-based solidarities. A reflection on their history can therefore produce useful insights for those struggling against racism today. This account focus on two main campaigns of the AYMs: the Anwar Ditta Defence Campaign and the Bradford 12 Defence Campaign. An important part of the lesson to be drawn from these campaigns is that it is possible to fight and win.

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Black lives on campuses matter: the rise of the new black student movement (Soundings 63, Summer 2016)

July 1, 2016

In response to the depredations of neoliberalism, millennials on university campuses have been helping lead movements for economic and social justice, and the Movement for Black Lives has been prominent within these movements. Past activists and scholars have been a source of inspiration, but social media have also played a key role in mobilising today’s activist networks. Some of the main activities of the Movement for Black Lives on campus, including at the University of Missouri, have also attracted a backlash against student activists, and solidarity from faculty members is both necessary and risky. Professors working at universities in the midst of the movement for Black Lives must understand that they are inherently implicated in issues of racial inequality on and off campus, and must address these disparities through creative pedagogy, support of student endeavours, and intentional civic engagement.

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The neoliberal university and its alternatives (Soundings 63, Summer 2016)

July 1, 2016

This article puts forward alternatives for higher education, as part of a series exploring programmatic alternatives to neoliberalism, in the belief that the identification of alternatives is a crucial part of the task of constructing a left challenge to the dominant consensus. Taking on Raymond Williams’s notion of the ‘democratic educator’ - as opposed to the ‘industrial trainer’ model of education, or the ‘old humanism’ model, Rustin puts forward a range of ideas to show what a university based on such an idea might look like, and how it would differ markedly from the current commercial, neoliberal, model. Among other suggestions, he argues that post-school education is a public as well as a private good, and should be seen as the entitlement of all citizens, supported and funded by the democratic state. It should be seen as a gift from one generation to the next, and offered to all within the age range of higher education - and not as an investment in the self to be paid for through a lifetime of debt. Given the current balance of power between the generations, older people would be able to pay for such a public service through such a means as a wealth tax. A rich society such as Britain can well afford such an investment in the future.

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The limitations of transnational business feminism: the case of gender lens investing (Soundings 62, Spring 2016)

April 1, 2016

This article outlines the emerging field of gender lens investing (GLI), linking it to a broader shift toward the ‘business case’ for gender equality. The first part of the article explains what GLI is, who is promoting it, and what some of these initiatives aim to do though this form of ‘impact investing’. The second part applies a critical eye to some of the discourses associated with this movement, arguing that they serve to reproduce particular assumptions about gender, about finance, and about the mutual compatibility of gender equality and the deepening of neoliberal capitalism. Three key assumptions that are made by GLI advocates are outlined, and the ways in which these assumptions support rather than challenge neoliberal common sense is noted.

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Locking in austerity (Soundings 62, Spring 2016)

April 1, 2016

John Grahl looks at the growing EU practice of imposing laws and regulations that restrict macro-economic policy, with the aim of enforcing austerity and ‘competitiveneness’ – which usually involves lowering wages and removing employment safeguards. This resort to law is a particularly German habit, and Germany’s current EU dominance is driving this approach. It is precisely their faith in the market that makes the German government and its allies believe that it will adapt to the numerical rules it lays down (about the ratio of GDP to debt, etc). But this is not part of a Hayek legacy, as is often argued, since Hayek was in favour of abstract rules of operation rather than legislation. The ordo-liberal tradition is more committed to rules, but traditionally this tradition is also distrustful of big business. This market fundamentalist embrace of rules-based austerity needs to be challenged, but it should not be seen as a reason for Britain to leave the European Union. On the contrary, if Britain were more engaged in Europe, its influence could act as a counter to this trend.

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Big business in a new constitutional settlement (Soundings 62, Spring 2016)

April 1, 2016

Authors: Sukhdev Johal, Adam Leaver, Mick Moran and Karel Williams

Taking their cue from Adolf Berle, who argued that business derives its right to exist from a social contract that means it also has to assume certain responsibilities, the authors argue that such responsibilities should apply all the more to businesses in the foundational economy - the sheltered part of the economy that supplies, on the ground, the mundane but essential goods and services which are the infrastructure of civilised life: utilities, food distribution, retail banking, as well as health, education and welfare services. On the demand side, consumption and therefore revenue streams are secure for businesses that operate in this area, while, on the supply side, many of these activities are natural (local) monopolies and are usually sheltered from international competition. Instead of acknowledging this protected position, however, companies that operate in these fields often behave without responsibility and combine low risk with high profits. The authors suggest that, in return for such privilege, businesses in this sector should be required to play their part in the social contract through a social licensing system. Such a system would also have implications for regional policy since there is interesting potential here to think about the level at which such a licence would be negotiated.

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The campaign for digital citizenship (Soundings 62, Spring 2016)

April 1, 2016

This article seeks to rethink digital politics and make the case for a digital bill of rights, along the lines advocated by think tank Cybersalon, to which the authors are affiliated. The authors argue that recent reports and proposed bills by the US and UK governments to regulate the internet tend to focus on users as consumers rather than citizens, and to prioritise commercial and security interests over individual rights. They also argue that we need better laws on copyright that take more account of the way digital media works: the new ways of collaborating and creating opened up by the web and internet should be celebrated rather than closed down. They argue that, as internet users at the beginning of the digital age, we all have responsibility as citizens to participate in the shaping of the future.

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Militarism or internationalism? British foreign policy at a crossroads (Soundings 62, Spring 2016)

April 1, 2016

David Wearing looks at the history of recent British foreign policy, and argues that it is heading for a crisis of legitimacy. The justifications made for liberal interventionism look increasingly threadbare as the number of failed states brought into being as a consequence of recent western military adventures steadily increases. The language of civilisational conflict instituted during the ‘war on terror’ has been incapable of containing the contradictions between the narrative offered and the facts on the ground. Particularly in the Middle East, it is increasingly difficult to justify policy that includes alliances with states such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, the remaking of crony relationships with the Egyptian regime that has suppressed the movement for democracy, and continuing support for an increasingly aggressive Israeli state. The evident deep flaws in UK foreign policy open up the opportunity for putting forward an alternative and genuinely progressive international policy, and the article sets out some measures that could point in the right direction - including joining the international fight against global warming, which is already killing people in many parts of the world, and drawing on the experiences of the UK’s multicultural citizenry to help promote an internationalism based on dialogue and negotiation.

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The colonial representation of Jihadi John: matters of life and death in the ‘war on terror’ (Soundings 62, Spring 2016)

April 1, 2016

Malcolm James analyses the ways that the reception of the ‘Jihadi John’ videos reinforces the idea of a civilised ‘us’ confronting a barbaric ‘them’: this was mobilised to suggest that the civilised world are fighting an enemy that is savage and inhuman - a setting up of civilisational oppositions that is happily embraced on the other side by Isis. He shows how the videos tap into anxieties about the enemy within, and are used to reinforce a view of all British Muslims as potentially dangerous - an almost inevitable consequence of the crude civilisational oppositions that circulate in mainstream discourse. The symbiotic relationships between the internet and broadcast news exponentially multiplied the numbers of viewers of the videos; and at the same time internet viewing made the experience more intimate, more immediate and more frightening, while the absence of context allowed for the creation of a wide range of meanings and interpretations both in the mainstream media and on the internet. In contrast to the use of the videos as propaganda - by both ‘sides’ - the article makes a case for the valuing all human life and against the kinds of colonial representation that work to dehumanise some people so that their death (or oppression) becomes possible.

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Editorial (Soundings 62, Spring 2016)

April 1, 2016

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Alternatives to neoliberalism: a framing statement (Soundings 62, Spring 2016)

April 1, 2016

In introducing a series of articles that explore positive and programmatic alternatives to neoliberalism, Michael Rustin points to its links with After Neoliberalism: the Kilburn Manifesto, the main focus of which was to analyse and expose the workings of neoliberalism. The new project aims to think through alternatives, within a framework based on the earlier analysis; to contest what Rustin regards as neoliberalism’s intentional redesign of the entire social system; and to propose what policies might flow from a clearly conceptualised alternative design. The Alternatives series will challenge common sense about what is possible and desirable; and explore a strategy for change - which may involve compromise, but will also be informed by an understanding of how individual measures contribute to an accumulating direction of change. The aim is to describe the institutional architecture that needs to be imagined if the epoch of neoliberal hegemony is to be brought to an end, and an alternative system to emerge.

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The housing crisis: too difficult or a great opportunity? (Soundings 62, Spring 2016)

April 1, 2016

Housing is an area where neoliberalism has been successful in shifting attitudes away from the notion that it is the business of the state to make provision for adequate homes for all, and towards the idea that housing should be seen as a market: i.e. the state has no business in subsidising the poor through providing affordable housing, or in regulating the private sector. Underlying financial relationships and financial institutions have underpinned this process, in particular the shift in the economy towards profit-taking from assets, including property, and away from investing in the productive economy. The alliance of financial interests with the ancient landowning aristocracy is evident here. It was Thatcher who started the initiative to ‘democratically’ extend the ranks of property owners, and thereby to simultaneously extend the numbers of those with a material interest in property-owning and financial concerns - as evinced, for example, in popular enthusiasm for rising asset prices and easy credit. Widespread home ownership, and the material interests of home-owners, can make it difficult to forge alliances for change in this area: housing is not a field in which the 99 per cent confront the 1 per cent. This makes it all the more important to frame the issues and put forward solutions in ways that facilitate the making of a common cause; the article concludes with useful suggestions for policy in the short and long term.

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Constructing a new politics (Soundings 62, Spring 2016)

April 1, 2016

Recent initiatives across Europe have shown that political projects drawing on the work of Gramsci, especially as interpreted by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, can be the source of strong growth in support for the left. Chantal Mouffe and leading Podemos strategist Íñigo Errejón here discuss the rise of Podemos, and the ways in which the party has drawn on the theoretical contribution made by Laclau and Mouffe. The first part of the discussion looks at the dominance across Europe of the centrist consensus, and the response to that of right-wing populism, stressing the need for an equivalent act of boldness on the left in shifting away from the centre. The second part looks at the relationship between the 15 May movement and the emergence of Podemos, and offers an insightful analysis that has implications for our understanding of how social movements and political parties interact.

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Strangers when we meet: identity and solidarity (Soundings 62, Spring 2016)

April 1, 2016

Identity politics is often misrepresented as undermining our ability to forge a sense of our collective humanity, leaving us trapped in single-issue debates and unable to develop meaningful connections outside of our group. Roshi Naidoo argues that the opposite is true: it is through, rather than in spite of, identity that we can find solidarity, connection and a more profound sense of humanity that embraces rather than suppresses difference in the name of a greater good.

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Poems: New Boots & Pantisocracies (Soundings 62, Spring 2016)

April 1, 2016

The garden is not for everyone
Hannah Lowe

‘Jeremy Corbyn must be stopped’
Roy Marshall

Styx
Seth Crook

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Reviews (Soundings 62, Spring 2016)

April 1, 2016

Post-Capitalism and the workless society

Paul Mason, Post-Capitalism: A guide to our future, Allen Lane 2015

Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, Inventing the Future: Post-Capitalism and a world without work, Verso 2015

Reviewed by Ben Little

Tax: a political fault line

Richard Murphy, The joy of tax: how a fair tax system can create a better society, Transworld Publishers 2015

Reviewed by Doreen Massey

Love and revolution in neoliberal Europe

Srecko Horvat, The Radicality of Love, Polity Press 2016

Reviewed by Antje Scharenberg

Review essay: What is the question?

Mike Savage et al, Social Class in the 21st Century, Pelican Books 2015

Reviewed by Andrew Sayer

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Clone of The Lessons for Labour-temp-backup (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

February 1, 2016

Barbara Castle recounts from her experience how much ‘old Labour’ achieved in its periods of office. She warns New Labour against the accommodations to financial orthodoxy which wrecked previous Labour governments, and declares that unemployment is the blight that most needs to be challenged.

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Editorial: exhilarating times (Soundings 61, Winter 2015)

November 1, 2015

Soundings has been arguing for a long time that Labour should ‘take a leap’, that it should challenge the dominant terms of debate: that, rather than accepting the established political terrain, it should be marking out distinctive territory of its own. Just before the last election we bemoaned the party’s lack of inspiration, arguing that this was a ‘moment crying out for some political bravery’.

The whole point of Soundings’ After Neoliberalism? The Kilburn Manifesto, likewise, has been to argue the political necessity of challenging the currently hegemonic common sense and to establish new ground. The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the party may herald the possibility of such a brave leap, and so we welcome it enthusiastically. But, as we also reflected in Issue 59, ‘being politically brave is a gamble … and like any gamble it may not pay off’ (p7). We are currently in the choppy waters of precisely such a gamble and it is engrossing. These are exhilarating times. […]

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Frontier anxiety: living with the stress of the every-day border (Soundings 61, Winter 2015)

November 1, 2015

The extension of border policing into everyday activities is undermining communities across Britain.

State borders hold a place in the collective imagination of our times in which anxiety plays a central part. It is at borders that the mundane certainties of life dissolve and the simple business of existing becomes a matter of uncertainty. This is the place where a person is forced to confront with the sharpest of intensity the fact that the rights which usually seem as securely available as an intimate personal possession are in fact a by-product of their relationship with the authorities of a state. It is at the border that this relationship can be called into most fundamental question. ‘I see you are in possession of a British passport madam’, says the immigration officer. ‘But can you explain to me how you came by this document and why you feel you are entitled to benefit from it?’ […]

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Feminism and ‘the S -word’ (Soundings 61, Winter 2015)

November 1, 2015

Jo I first heard the phrase ‘the S-word’ being used by Nira Yuval-Davis in a Soundings seminar. It was being used to indicate how the S-word, socialism, is often an issue which is there but cannot be said: it’s the elephant in the room. (Although it has now had a notable resurgence in public discourse post-Corbyn.) This struck a chord for me, because the S-word has long been a point of identification, whilst at the same time its currency within most of my lifetime has always seemed to be on a downward spiral: decreasingly socially acceptable, increasingly politically powerless, deeply unfashionable and often marked through association with dodgy sectarian groups. This is of course because I grew up as one of Thatcher’s children in the 1980s, a time when socialism moved from being a kind of living part of everyday cultural and political discourse, central to the socialised forms of the welfare state and the NHS, to being positioned instead as an ‘ideological’ term outside the centre. But one of the few places where I learnt about socialism - growing up mainly in a fairly centre-right family context - was through the legacies of second-wave feminist work, both activist and academic. This work tended to use the term ‘socialist feminism’ in a very open and experimental way to describe their position and the kind of equal society they wanted to see in the world […]

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Miracles can happen… (Soundings 61, Winter 2015)

November 1, 2015

Many new ideas for social change are emerging on the ground from within Labour Councils

The days of binary choices in politics are gone, as is the fiscal basis for the mildly redistributive social democratic policies pursued by New Labour. If we hope to find a new way forward Labour needs to connect the fight against inequality to a passion for innovation in economic and social life. Some of the ideas needed for this are already emerging in embryonic form in Labour’s own heartlands. And if some of the innovation and improvements in productivity recently shown by Labour Councils having to deal with the cuts could be rolled out across a wider range of services, the impact on economic growth and boost to fairness would be significant. Many of these innovations demonstrate a practical grasp of ways to revive public service delivery: a number of Labour councils are engaged, on the ground, in rolling back key features of the New Public Sector Management launched under Thatcher and Major and embraced by Blair and Brown. 

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The art of politics (Soundings 61, Winter 2015)

November 1, 2015

Jon Cruddas talks to Ben Little, Doreen Massey and Michael Rustin

Is it possible to overcome the tensions between big ideas and electoral contingency? 

Michael Let’s start by going back a little bit and talking about your experience in the Labour Party Policy Review - what do you think went right with it and what went not so right?

Jon Well, from a personal point of view I had a fantastic time! In 2011, when Ed first invited me to take a look at the policy review, the discussion had been largely within the shadow cabinet rather than the broader party, but we then widened it to include the wider party. So changing the process was an important first step. But the main task was to take some of the ideas and frameworks Ed was developing - predistribution for example - and to build a contemporary policy agenda from those; to try and turn the page from New Labour, if you want. And in the early days there was a real freedom to set up all sorts of different independent commissions and projects. The strategy was to have the One Nation Framework developed throughout that period and then in 2014 to deliver a substantial piece of work to consolidate as national policy for the party and then the manifesto. So we commissioned a lot of projects - there were about 25 different commissions or reports. And the discussions they produced were fascinating. […]

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Deserving and undeserving migrants (Soundings 61, Winter 2015)

November 1, 2015

Hostility has the potential to reproduce itself across all groups - but so too does compassion.

This article considers a theme that emerged from our recent research project: that local people (including ethnic minority British citizens and recent immigrants) tend to distinguish between ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’, or ‘good’ and ‘bad’ migrants. Rather than assuming that such distinctions reflect the prevalence and internalisation of anti-immigrant messages, we have sought to understand why people who are themselves devalued through dominant and racist anti-immigrant discourses are nonetheless utilising the same language to talk about excluded social groups such as immigrants, benefits claimants, and the unemployed, destitute or homeless. We argue that the tendency of recent migrants as well as people from established ethnic minorities to make this distinction between deserving and undeserving, or good and bad, migrants and citizens is a central feature of their own bid for recognition and legitimacy. But we have also found that people are producing values that counter the predominance of moralistic narratives of economic productivity and aspiration. Our project data provides numerous examples of local people resisting a dominant discourse that seeks to intensify hostility towards migrants. They have been doing this by asserting other kinds of values, such as compassion, empathy, and solidarity. […]

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The English NHS after the general election (Soundings 61, Winter 2015)

November 1, 2015

When forced to choose between saving the nation from the ‘marauding Scots’ and saving the NHS from the Tories, middle England opted to face down the Jacobite rebellion. Labour’s warnings about the effect of another term for Cameron on the health service generally fell flat, as did the National Health Action Party’s call to turn the clock back to the days before the NHS internal market was first fashioned. Meanwhile in the run-up to the election, though opinion polls showed some of the highest levels of public satisfaction with the NHS ever, political activists from all parties, including the Tories and UKIP, rallied to defend their local hospitals. […]

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‘Fit is the new rich’: male embodiment in the age of austerity (Soundings 61, Winter 2015)

November 1, 2015

Investing in the perfect body is hard work and very little play 

In July 2014, cultural commentator Mark Simpson coined the term ‘spornosexual’ to signify a new articulation of masculinity that had begun emerging across different locations within contemporary culture. A portmanteau of sportsman and porn star, a spornosexual is a young man who attempts to fashion a spectacularly muscular body in order to share images of it on social networking sites.  […]

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Three poems from Campaign in Poetry (Soundings 61, Winter 2015)

November 1, 2015

Rachel Piercey and I decided to make Campaign in Poetry because we wanted to challenge voter apathy and engage with the state of democracy in the UK. The poems we assembled acknowledge the disillusionment felt by many would-be voters contemplating the people in power and social injustice in the UK and beyond, but, more pressingly, I think they make a case for greater empathy across society and for politics conducted on a human level.

Emma Wright

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Reviews (Soundings 61, Winter 2015)

November 1, 2015

The end of the social and the denigration of democracy?

Wendy Brown, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s stealth revolution, Zone Books, MIT Press 2015

Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the College de France, 1978-9, translated by Graham Burchell, Palgrave MacMillan 2010 

Reviewed by Angela McRobbie

The high price of neoliberalism

Saskia Sassen, Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy, Harvard University Press 2014

Reviewed by Deborah Grayson 

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Race, migration and neoliberalism (Soundings 59, Spring 2014)

July 1, 2015

This article looks at the ways in which structures of racism underpin the workings of neoliberal culture and society, both within the UK and internationally. Common sense on race is deeply entangled with the legacies of empire, and continues to sustain a sense that the West has a civilising mission within the world. This helps underpin acceptance of global inequality. Racism also helps sustain meritocratic ways of viewing achievement, as well as wider exclusionary notions of competence and worthiness. Free marketeers favour the free movement of labour, but do not take responsibility for ensuring the welfare of either migrants of existing residents. Instead they opportunisticaly blame migrants for the ills caused by neoliberalism itself. Communitarianism feeds into exclusionary rhetoric since it valorises belonging and cannot encompass difference within its political view.

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Energy beyond neoliberalism (Soundings 59, Spring 2014)

July 1, 2015

Platform, a group which campaigns on the social, economic and environmental impacts of the global oil industry, here analyses how deeply embedded the industry is within the structures of neoliberalism, especially the City, where BP and Shell between them make up 20 per cent of the value of the FTSE 100. They detail all the ways in which the market is eminently unsuitable as a means of deciding energy policy, and argue that a new energy settlement will be an important part of the transition from neoliberalism. They also explore energy alternatives that break with the foundational assumptions of the neoliberal order, and, drawing on the story of how the Tredegar Medical Aid Society inspired the NHS, argue that energy democracy can be realised by scaling up from decentralised, community-controlled renewable energy projects, and using the state’s institutions to pool and redistribute resources.

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Editorial: The tasks ahead (Soundings 60, Summer 2015)

July 1, 2015

For most of us the election result was a shock, but in some ways it didn’t substantially change the nature of the tasks we face. We still need to find new ways of battling against an environmentally destructive and aggressively unequal capitalism - and the common sense that sustains it. The result made this more difficult in the short term, but its primary effect was on tactics.

If Labour had been able to form a government with SNP support, there would have been more obvious and accessible faultlines and pressure points to work with. And a Labour-led coalition or minority government could have provided a basis from which to build a conglomeration of parties and social forces to begin to push back at the ever encroaching logics of marketisation and individualisation. We could have started to explore the possibilities of different left practices and imaginations - embracing new forms of collectivity and networks of solidarity, and ways to repurpose the economy towards sociality, care, and participation, as well as finding sustainable ways to increase productivity that could lead to material benefits for all, not sharply increased returns for a few.

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Editorial: Dare to win (Soundings 59, Spring 2014)

March 1, 2015

If the election on 7 May allows David Cameron to continue as prime minister it will be a disaster for the UK, but especially for the poorest and most vulnerable in society. Moreover it will sink any medium-term prospect of transition to a just and sustainable economy. The only possible positive outcome for the election would be a Labour-led government in Westminster, either outright or in coalition.

Yet the party refuses to inspire. The last five years for Labour have been defined by caution. Don’t challenge austerity, focus on the NHS, and hope that 2010 voters plus disaffected Lib Dems will add up to a slight majority. This strategy is looking less and less effective, although it still may give Miliband the keys to Downing Street. But it misreads the times. This is a moment crying out for some political bravery, not retrenchment.

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Elections and political change (Soundings 59, Spring 2015)

March 1, 2015

Reflections on the Soundings manifesto and the elections.

This article analyses the May 2015 UK general election from the perspective of conjunctural analysis – which seeks to understand how the deep structural movements in economy, society and culture are articulated together to shape any given political settlement. Although none of the main contenders in the election have programmes that offer a break with the neoliberal conjuncture, the authors examine the conditions of possibility for such a break. These include the possibility of the economy becoming once more an area of political contestation rather than consensus – a prospect which Syriza has opened up to a considerable extent. Even in the UK the plates may have started to shift – as has been seen in Scotland. If this does start to happen, a new progressive government would find it easier to enact real change.

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Editorial: Dialogue and memory (Soundings 58, Winter 2014)

December 1, 2014

This issue opens with three articles on feminism, generation and the need for dialogue. Alison Winch explores the possibilities for fruitful exchange between different generations of feminists, pointing out that disagreement is itself often productive of new ideas - as the history of feminism clearly shows. Nancy Fraser, in her interview with Jo Littler, discusses how her ideas have developed over time, and in doing so maps the story of the baby-boom generation of socialist feminists in the US and Europe, grappling with the need to adapt to new times without losing old principles. And Susan Douglas discusses how the women from that generation, who are now old, are having to deal with neoliberal injunctions to remain young and beautiful while living with ever-decreasing levels of security. As she argues, even in an age that some see as postfeminist, ‘good, old-fashioned, grade-A sexism continues to reinforce good, old-fashioned, grade-A patriarchy’.

The Soundings editors see fostering these kinds of discussions between and across generations as one of the journal’s most important activities. Older activists and intellectuals, who themselves learned from previous generations, have an obligation to pass on the best of their heritage and lessons learned; and, as Alison argues, they are also more likely to have resources to share. Younger generations have energy and new ideas, and perhaps a surer sense of the current times, but often lack access to the history of their own movements. And as Alison also points out, if we don’t seek understanding through our own histories, mainstream media versions of feminism - which tend to focus on celebrities and stories of individual success - will remain dominant.

In the final article of this issue, David Slater’s excellent and informative account of the work of Ernesto Laclau, who died in 2014, pays tribute to a thinker from whom we will continue to learn for a long time to come. Ernesto’s work was a massive contribution to the project of rethinking old certainties while remaining politically committed to the democratic left. As David quotes him on Marx: ‘any intellectual tradition worthy of respect can never believe it has reached a definitive settlement of accounts’. And Ernesto drew on the classics he himself inherited to formulate new ways of thinking - about central issues such as democracy, populism, hegemony, social movements, contingency. His body of work is a central resource for our own efforts in Soundings to find ways of linking horizontal movements to a sense

of popular national project. David closes his appreciation with this point, quoting from Ernesto’s work in his book The Rhetorical Foundations of Society, published by Verso in 2014, in which he argues that the ‘horizontal dimension of autonomy’ will be incapable, left to itself, of bringing about long-term historical change if it is not complemented by the ‘vertical dimension of hegemony’ - in other words, a ‘radical transformation of the state’. Equally, hegemony that is not accompanied by ‘mass action at the level of civil society’ leads to a ‘bureaucratism that will be easily colonized by the corporative power of the forces of the status quo’. Ernesto saw the need to advance in the directions of both autonomy and hegemony: for him this was a key challenge for those of us who aim for a democratic future that gives real meaning to a ‘socialism of the twenty-first century’. These insights are a small part of his outstanding legacy, which we will continue to value and learn from.

The other piece in this issue which reflects on legacy and remembrance is Maggie Andrews’s look at the ways in which the first world war is currently being memorialised. No-one knows better than the British establishment how important it is to mobilise history to serve its current aims. But, as Maggie shows, history from below is becoming ever more popular, and alternative histories, including from the grass-roots, have made important interventions that have overturned previously settled readings. And, as she also points out, the loony right try to claim such areas as their own, which makes it all the more important that the left do not vacate the territory.

A second cluster of pieces engages with the downbeat nature of much contemporary political language and culture. Kristina Diprose shows how resilience is now frequently put forward as a response to living with austerity. As she argues, although we all need resilience to survive, the increasing deployment of the term in public speech is part of a wider climate in which people are urged to accept their lot - to work to make themselves more resilient rather than the world less precarious. Kristina quotes Tracie Washington of the Louisiana Justice Institute, who points out that every time she is labelled as resilient it means something else can be done to her. Resilience is something that is demanded of the poor - and as an aspiration it is profoundly pessimistic.

Dave Featherstone discusses Labour’s attempt to find a focus through the ideas of One Nation Labour and a focus on localism. As a tactical move to shame the current ruling regime and reclaim the centre ground for Labour, the One Nation speech of 2012 had some merit. But its deployment as an organising principle for Labour values has over-stretched its utility, and it can often seem little more than a rebadging of Blue Labour conservatism and nostalgia. Although it is informed by a critique of marketisation, One Nation Labour thinking too often ducks questions of political antagonism, and, partly because of this influence, the party is failing to offer a political home for the many people in Britain who want to link their campaigns against injustice to a national majoritarian project. In short, this trend in the Labour Party is too pessimistic about mobilising potential support for change, and too timid in its programme.

Labour has also been disappointing in its willingness to join in populist rhetoric that seeks to separate hard-working ‘ordinary’ people from the undeserving and feckless poor. Sam Kirwan’s article on the current government’s cutting back of legal aid entitlement shows how government restrictions have been justified precisely through this kind of narrowing down of the concept of who belongs to the community and is therefore entitled to community solidarity. A politics based on communitarian ideas needs at least to be aware of the exclusions that are often justified by currently dominant normative definitions of belonging.

Elsewhere in the issue, Gerry Aiken shows how community projects can be damaged by a relationship with the state that is defined by funding and form-filling, and how regulation of community groups by such means fosters competition and market ideas within the heart of civil society. Sarah Benton reflects on the ways in which capital tries to keep wage costs down by shifting work away from employees, to instead be carried out by consumers of their services, in their own time. And we carry a further instalment of the Kilburn Manifesto - this time Michael Rustin and Doreen Massey’s discussion of Britain’s key role in supporting the spread of global neoliberalism.

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The fortunes of socialist feminism: Interview with Nancy Fraser (Soundings 58, Winter 2014)

December 1, 2014

Jo Littler’s interview with Nancy Fraser explores her approach to the hegemony of a liberal feminist model that allows privileged women to lead lives that she argues are socially male. Focusing on the themes of her new book Fortunes of Feminism, the interview explores the impact of the baby-boom generation of socialist feminists in the US and Europe. The hegemonic form of liberal feminism that emerges as a result of neoliberalism is criticised in the interview for solely focusing on reproductive rights or violence against women, while failing to engage with a critique of political economy in a broader social dialogue. Littler examines Fraser’s ambition to be both an academic writer and a writer concerned with social movements, alongside Fraser’s new focus on environmentalism and a newly emerging eco-feminist-socialist tradition that explores crisis theory.

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Resilience is futile (Soundings 58, Winter 2014)

December 1, 2014

This article takes a critical look at the role of resilience in an age of austerity, from the meanings and practices it encompasses for grassroots groups to its rise to prominence across diverse policy fields. It considers Cindi Katz’s theorisation of resilience as a socio-symbolic practice that enables people and communities to fortify themselves, sometimes complementing autonomous acts of resistance. However, it is argued that resilience also represents the latest, least optimistic iteration of the idealised neoliberal citizen as someone who is self-disciplined and self-reliant. In particular, it examines the ways in which resilience may be harmful to progressive political thought and action by encouraging people to tolerate insecurity and inequality, to treat collective struggles as tests of personal character, and to indefinitely postpone more radical demands for change as they settle for self-transformation.

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Rethinking the neoliberal world order (Soundings 58, Winter 2014)

December 1, 2014

As a further instalment of the Kilburn manifesto, Rustin and Massey extend their arguments on neoliberalism to the realm of international relations and emphasise Britain’s key role in supporting the spread of global neoliberalism. There is a need to understand neoliberalism as a global system, and the importance of opposing it as such. The article begins by placing emphasis on the need to take a more global perspective when discussing neoliberalism, focusing on the recent crises in the Middle East, from Iraq, to Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, the Ukraine and Israel, as well as the recent emergence of Isis. After having established the importance of acknowledging Britain’s contribution to neoliberalism on a global scale, the article then finishes by suggesting some of the principles that should guide Britain’s role in the international sphere. It concludes by outlining the importance of this list of considerations for British foreign policy in order to oppose neoliberalism as a global system.

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Editorial: Spaces of debate (Soundings 57, Summer 2014)

August 1, 2014

Across Europe, what Christos Laskos and Euclid Tsakalotos call ‘a general lack of plasticity’ has been a central feature of government reaction to the financial crisis. Seeking a return to business as usual via austerity measures has been a more or less standard response. But this political failure has also been vigorously contested. New spaces of debate have opened up that are challenging the dominant narrative and informing new movements for change. Some of these spaces and alternatives are discussed in this issue.

Greece has been at the heart of the European storm, and, partly because of this, debates on the Greek left have been wide-ranging and inspiring. In SYRIZA we start to see a model that the wider European left could emulate. The party has placed great emphasis on allying with and supporting new social movements born of political disenfranchisement, rising poverty and precarity - most notably the ‘take the squares’ and anti-austerity movements - but without seeking to lead and control them. This has been in stark contrast to the practices of other established left parties across the world, and has been key to their success, along with their commitment to open, inclusive and critically engaged debate about ways forward.

This political expansiveness is born from a politics rooted in an intellectual tradition that has also been central to the Soundings project. Christos Laskos and Euclid Tsakalotos write within a theoretical framework that we have often described as conjunctural analysis - seeking an understanding of politics in the round but also as located within a historical moment, and comprehending capitalism not simply as an economic system but also as a cultural and social formation. From this intellectual perspective, political and economic solutions are not seen as pre-existing movements and moments; and it is this openness to change and ability to react to fluid circumstances while retaining a rigorous critical engagement that has made SYRIZA’s rise possible. This stands in cautionary contrast to the disastrously immobile stance of many European centre-left governments in the face of austerity, and is miles away from the dogmatism that characterises left politics in the popular imaginary.

Irem Inceoglu writes from Turkey on the continuing influence of Gezi Park on political life. She argues that the spirit of Gezi was constrained during the local election campaigns in spring 2014, when for many it was put back into the bottle of party politics, but it has found a new home in the Occupy CHP movement. This is particularly interesting because it is an attempt to take Gezi politics into the heart of the main opposition party: ‘#OccupyCHP aims at governance in the Gezi Spirit: free thought, free consciousness and free conscience within the CHP’. Irem sees Occupy CHP as a sign that a new generation is seeking to engage with the mainstream while keeping their roots in social movements.

In our roundtable discussion on new movements of dissent Olga Abasolo reports from Spain on the Indignados, or 15 May Movement, which also started from the occupation of public spaces, and has become embedded in a number of civil society initiatives. In response Jeremy Gilbert argues that we are living in post-democratic societies, and these protests are giving voice to some of the very large numbers of people who feel disenfranchised. Both Jeremy and Hilary Wainwright believe that the new movements are articulating in new ways some of the radical democratic aspirations that were broadly defeated in the 1970s and 1980s. The instinct of neoliberalism is to solve the financial crisis at the expense of ordinary people, and if necessary democracy; and in response there has been a return by many to fundamental arguments about the kind of system we want to live in.

It is interesting to read these discussions alongside Gerry Hassan and Robin McAlpine’s articles on the Scotland referendum debate and Jon Cruddas and Michael Rustin’s discussion of the processes of the Labour Party Policy Review - two very different spaces of debate. As Robin McAlpine points out, ‘irrespective of the outcome, it has been an immensely liberating experience to be asked to consider your nation as if from scratch’. Gerry looks at some of the newer forms of horizontal organising that have bloomed in the space opened up by the posing of this fundamental question; as he argues, the old framework has been brought into question, and some of the hegemonic cultures that were anchored within it are failing to withstand scrutiny.1

The conversation between Jon Cruddas and Michael Rustin, in contrast, partly focuses on how to organise discussion about our democratic future within a party structure that has its own inbuilt resistances to grassroots democracy. Jon hopes that the Policy Review Process will be symbolic of a shift away from top-down politics, both within the party and in its wider programme for change. These debates closer to the mainstream are of course of crucial importance, and it is a cause for optimism that Jon also recognises the important of discussions between Labour and wider circles of ideas and activism.

This issue closes with two more instalments of the Soundings manifesto - one of the central concerns of which is to understand how debates are framed in order to bolster up particular arguments. Janet Newman and John Clarke recontextualise the way we think of the state, and assert its continuing importance for the left. They argue that we need to re-imagine the state as a site of contestation and compromise, not as a monolithic entity. Social movements and new ideas can lead to new settlements within the state: there are therefore always political possibilities for change. Doreen Massey and Michael Rustin point to the narrowness of the questions considered in mainstream economic debate, which has been reduced to the monitoring of a few indicators such as growth, inflation or GDP, without any consideration of deeper questions such as our manufacturing capacity, our needs and the sustainability of our way of life. These acts of framing are central to neoliberal hegemony: they define what we discuss.

The countering of dominant narratives continues in the rest of the issue. Eliane Glaser looks at the economy from the perspective of David Graeber’s concept of bullshit jobs. She shows the contradictions between current rhetoric about hard work, austerity and lean times and the endless proliferation of pointless jobs within the economy. As she argues, it is ‘bizarre for employers in the public and private sector alike to be behaving like the bureaucracies of the old Soviet Union, shelling out wages to workers they do not appear to need’. David Purdy shows how regime change has come about in previous periods of British history and puts forward ideas that could form the basis of a new paradigm.

Andrew Goffey, Ewen Speed and Lynne Pettinger describe how the information revolution in the NHS meshes with the interests of private companies. Technology influences both the way information is gathered and the nature of what is measured, but these processes are rarely subject to any critical review; and once data has been produced, its reduction of complex processes to arithmetical categories can be forgotten, and decisions more easily made through market practices. A narrative of information thus overlays a process of marketisation. 

Elsewhere Paul-Francois Tremlett shows how religious practice itself is shaped by the market, as places of worship shift from church to shopping mall and internet; and David Donnison writes as part of the generation shaped by the great turn to the left at the end of the second world war. As he argues, the radical, egalitarian tradition has never been altogether driven out of our culture. Identifying, opening up and maintaining spaces for debate will play a central part in the building of new political futures for the twenty-first century.

Notes

1. For a discussion on the connection between defining the nation and spaces of democracy in Latin America, see Doreen Massey, ‘Learning from Latin America’, Soundings 50, spring 2012, pp136-8. 

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Beyond bullshit jobs (Soundings 57, Summer 2014)

August 1, 2014

Further develops the arguments of anthropologist and activist David Graeber’s article ‘On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs’. Graeber has argued that, contrary to Keynes’s prediction that by the end of the twentieth century we would all be working 15 hour weeks, technology has in fact been used to devise ways to make us work ever harder. A surprising and depressing number of contemporary jobs are of the ‘bullshit’ variety, in that they contribute virtually nothing of use or value to society. This article takes Graeber’s insight as a starting point, using the concept of ‘bullshit jobs’ to draw out a central contradiction in neoliberal rhetoric. On the one hand, austerity and capitalism alike call for competitive efficiency. On the other, economic growth demands the creation of jobs seemingly for their own sake. This incoherent contrast between leanness and expansiveness has the potential to undermine the logic of the neoliberal imposition of work culture. The article also examines what we mean by meaningful and useful work, and marshals recent research on anti-work in order to review the prospects for resisting work as an arbitrary and pointless imperative.

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States of imagination (Soundings 57, Summer 2014)

August 1, 2014

This article recontextualises the way we think of the state, and asserts its continuing importance for the left. It argues that we need to re-imagine the state as a site of contestation and compromise, not a monolithic entity. Social movements and new ideas can lead to new settlements within the state: there are therefore always political possibilities for change. The article draws on a range of newspaper headlines that show something of the current contradictory responses to the changing role of the state, as well as the affective dimensions of those responses. Many of these headlines point to continuing attachments to collectivity and solidarity in insecure times – ‘residual attachments’, marked by the continuation of questions that cannot be answered in the terms of the dominant market ideology. But they also express newer identifications and politics, and these point to the need for state to also adapt to emergent, more dialogic, forms of engagement.

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Whose economy? Reframing the debate (Soundings 57, Summer 2014)

August 1, 2014

The authors point to the narrowness of the questions considered in mainstream economic debate, which has been reduced to a monitoring of a few indicators such as growth, inflation or GDP, without any consideration of deeper questions such as our manufacturing capacity, our needs and the sustainability of our way of life. Such acts of framing are central to neoliberal hegemony: they seek to define what we discuss. The article analyses financialisation as being at the heart of the current economic settlement, and suggests ways of undermining its commonsense assumptions. It puts forward four key elements of an alternative. These include acknowledging the importance of the role of the state within the economy; challenging finance through more rigorous regulation; adopting measures to dampen the attraction of assets (as opposed to investment in production); and changing the aims of economic practice – our idea of what economics is for. Here they put forward two illustrative priorities for investment and activity – economic sustainability and hence the policies of the Green New Deal; and the promotion of an economy of care and human development.

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Editorial: Austerity generation (Soundings 56, Spring 2014)

April 1, 2014

We start the issue with the two most recent instalments from the Kilburn Manifesto. Beatrix Campbell writes on the ways in which patriarchy is entangled with neoliberalism, while Ben Little writes on the ways in which generational politics is articulated to its project. As Beatrix pointed out at a recent Soundings seminar, both pieces are attempts to map neoliberalism - to show how it operates in all its complexities and linkages - in order the better to understand and contest it.

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After neoliberalism: the need for a gender revolution (Soundings 56, Spring 2014)

April 1, 2014

Discusses neo-patriarchy, the new gender settlement through which patriarchy is entangled with neoliberalism. Since the gains first made by 1970s feminism there has been little further advance; instead capitalism has adapted to new forms of gender power. In particular, the massive increase in violence across the globe has seen the growth of militarised masculinity, especially in countries struggling to establish democracy in South America and Africa; while the dismantling of welfare states – as for example in China – has undermined equality for a whole generation of mothers.

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A growing discontent: class and generation under neoliberalism (Soundings 56, Spring 2014)

April 1, 2014

This article discusses how young people are one of the groups most affected by neoliberalism. This is not because of a wealth transfer from young to old, or a neglect of the interests of the young simply because they don’t vote: it is part of a strategic restructuring of how our economy and society work in favour of capital, which focuses its efforts on the weakest points of resistance – which include the economy’s newest and most vulnerable entrants. An inter-generational alliance across is therefore the best hope for securing the future of the generation who have grown up under the restraint of neoliberalism.

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After Thatcher: still trying to piece it all together (Soundings 56, Spring 2014)

April 1, 2014

Reflecting the point in history when they first became immersed in feminist and socialist politics, the authors of Beyond the Fragments - guest-featuring Pragna Patel - reflect on the heady days of the 1970s, and discuss what we could learn from those times. All four of them remain committed to the ideas of their youth - feminism, democracy, grassroots organising, alliances, the personal as political, even socialism! - but argue the need to learn the lessons of the past, not least from our defeats, in order to build more resilient alliances today.

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Editorial: Values as commodities (Soundings 55, Winter 2013)

December 1, 2013

This issue opens with another instalment from our continuing online Manifesto, this time Stuart Hall and Alan O’Shea on the political role played by an appeal to ‘common sense’. The idea that we all share common-sense values, and that specific proposals self-evidently ‘make sense’ according to these precepts, is a powerful way of legitimating new policies. As Stuart and Alan point out, the assumption that everyone is obviously going to agree with what is being proposed is in fact itself a strategy to secure that agreement.

In the mean time a ferocious battle is waged over what actually constitutes popular common sense. Well-endowed supporters of neoliberalism are able to put substantial resources into shaping public opinion, through the media that they or their friends own, through the funding and promoting of experts and spokespeople, through their corporate PR resources, through donations to political parties, and through all their extended networks of power and influence. We on the left need to counter these activities by working with the grain of the good sense that exists alongside and within popular common sense - for example a widespread sense of what is just and unjust, of the rich being too powerful, of the need to look after the vulnerable. But articulating these ideas to a political project also requires work - as well as a recognition that this work is central to political activity. As Stuart and Alan argue, and as Tom Crompton argued in Soundings 54, when Labour politicians frame their proposals within neoliberal terms and rhetoric - for example when they talk about being tough on people living on benefits - they are actually undermining their own position.

Ben Little points to the ways in which the right seek to shore up their position both through using governmental power - as with the recent lobbying bill which has imposed far more restrictions on civil society campaigners than on corporations - and through trying to imitate campaigning rhetoric in their own PR. Both tactics are a response to the rise and rise of ‘cause-based’ politics in the face of widespread disaffection with political parties: campaigning groups, social movements and NGOs have come to occupy some of the ground that has been vacated by politicians, and this is seen as a threat.

But, as Ben argues, there is perhaps a more insidious problem in the way in which political power itself is now understood. For many, especially within horizontalist groups and social movements, power is seen as abhorrent; for many others issues of power have been evacuated from political discourse, with political affiliation understood as brand identification and voting as consumer rational choice. These deeper signs of the permeation of neoliberal values are good news for the right - and need to be challenged by the left.

Ben also describes the ‘networked leaderlessness’ of much internet politics, and the central role within this world of the self-contained liberal subject, ‘placed in a network of other individuals as a heroic actor able to act rapidly against oppression and self-educate to deal with any emergent challenge’. As he argues, this figure has become a contemporary ideal of emancipation precisely because s/he exists in a dematerialised and levelled out world that exists outside power relations, while still allowing a sense of connection and participation. This internet hero is able to disavow conflict in favour of emotional attachment to a cause.

A similar sense of the internet’s capacity to render power relations invisible informs Jason Wilson’s discussion of TED, the massive US-based internet talks phenomenon. TED offers planetary access to convenient 18-minute slices of pedagogy, delivered by celebrities and charismatic individuals and offering quick solutions to global problems. As Jason argues, the narrative form of these lectures suggests that a problem that has existed since time immemorial can be solved when a leading individual does something counter-intuitive as a result of ‘out of the box’ thinking - or ‘when a clever geek takes a new look at the data’. This in turn enables the political fantasy that individuals can control and intervene in complex events without engaging in any serious conflicts over values or resources.

Jason coins the term ‘solutionism’ to describe this notion that the world’s problems can be solved by the brainpower of the cosmopolitan elite - and without any conflict. And he also warns that versions of this kind of commodified education are being touted as an answer to the lack of funding for state education in the US - a commercial technological fix with added ideological bonus. 

Both Ben and Jason argue that new communications technologies can of course be of immense benefit to new forms of politics. Ben argues that Beppe Grillo’s 5-star movement, for all its problems, points to ways in which internet based mobilisation can connect with a political project, as do groups such as 38 Degrees. Jason urges us to think collectively about ways of harnessing technology to purposes of equality, and to disrupt ‘the rapidly solidifying political and aesthetic field that thus distributes the rights to think and speak’.

Vikki Boliver and David Byrne show how the idea of social mobility chimes in with the neoliberal agenda: if individuals can be seen to be able to move between social classes, inequality becomes less of a problem. Or, in commonsense terms, as long as there are ladders available the cleverest will always be able to climb them. Vikki and David quote David Cameron (quoting Churchill): ‘We are for the ladder. Let all try their best to climb.’ In the postwar period there was some mobility because of the expansion of the middle class - but not at all because those at the top swapped places with anyone. But now that the middle class is contracting and becoming poorer while position-swapping remains off the agenda - and at a time when inequality is growing exponentially - the notion of meritocracy or equality of opportunity is wearing very thin. The metaphor of the ladder misleadingly implies that all have the potential to climb on their own. Much better, as Vikki and David suggest, to return to the old slogan: rise with your class, not from it.

The values of austerity are a crucial part of the neoliberal repertoire. Tracey Jensen shows how austerity narratives reinforce the idea that poverty arises from fecklessness. While hard-working citizens are busily looking for ladders, the poor are indulging in the irresponsible parenting that is to blame for their offpring’s lack of opportunity. As Tracey also points out, the notion that individual decisions are responsible for structurally generated poverty was a key New Labour motif, and one that has not wholly been abandoned by the current Labour leadership. But the Tories have cranked up the rhetoric on problem families, while the new thrift aesthetic opens up further possibilities for the demonising of spendthrifts on benefits. Meanwhile thrift rhetoric demands that the state also stops wasting money on people who after all have only themselves to blame.

Elsewhere in the issue Virginia Crisp shows how the concept of piracy is used to mobilise support for increasingly stringent copyright laws that benefit corporations far more than artistic creators and producers. Intellectual property is likely to be a major bone of contention in future battles for equal access to knowledge. In her discussion on practices and assumptions in the newly devolved institutions Sylvia Shaw draws attention to yet another way in which those at the centre of power police its boundaries. And Dave Featherstone explores international solidarities past and present, reminding us that global neoliberalism has never gone unchallenged.

We close with three articles on the economy. The first - moving from the global to the local - is an inspiring second progress report by Alan Sitkin on the London Borough of Enfield’s project to challenge business to make a greater local contribution, and to assert the role of the local state in promoting the interests of its citizens. The second is John Grahl’s account of the waning of support for austerity measures in the EU, which ends with a sombre warning that unless the EU abandons austerity its legitimacy will also wane - to the point where the European project may become unrescuable. Finally Bryan Gould reminds us that it is only the grip of neoliberalism on our imagination that prevents us from adopting what could be relatively uncontroversial and mainstream growth policies. Here Labour’s apparent inability to break with neoliberal orthodoxy is mystifying. Policies that the government is pursuing in collusion with the finance industry are clearly unpopular and manifestly do not work.

It is perhaps in the field of the economy more than anywhere else that we see the overwhelming importance of engaging in the battle over common sense.

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Common-sense neoliberalism (Soundings 55, Winter 2013)

December 1, 2013

The idea that we all share common-sense values, and that specific proposals self-evidently ‘make sense’ according to these precepts, is a powerful legitimation strategy. The assumption that everyone is obviously going to agree with what is being proposed is in fact itself a means of securing that agreement. In the mean time a ferocious battle is waged over what actually constitutes popular common sense. Well-endowed supporters of neoliberalism are able to put substantial resources into shaping public opinion; and the left need to counter these activities by working with the grain of the good sense that exists alongside and within popular common sense - for example a widespread sense of what is just and unjust, of the rich being too powerful, of the need to look after the vulnerable. But articulating these ideas to a political project also requires work - and recognition that this work is central to political activity. When Labour politicians frame their proposals within neoliberal terms and rhetoric - for example when they talk about being tough on people living on benefits - they are actually undermining their own position.

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Parties, causes and political power (Soundings 55, Winter 2013)

December 1, 2013

Key indicators for participation in political parties are at an all-time low. Much of the energy that once went into parties now finds itself in cause-based campaigns. This article asks how and if political parties can renew themselves. It looks at the heyday of political parties in the 1950s and 1960s, the challenge posed to them by a pincer movement of consumerism and identity politics since that period, and at the current relationship between political parties, campaigners and ideas of power, particularly in an age of digital media. It argues that political parties and their manner of wielding power has become ‘abject’ but that traditional campaign groups cannot simply fill that role as it goes against their very design. Instead a new formation and structure must take the place of the old political party, but it is not yet clear what shape that organisation will take.

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Editorial: Hope and experience (Soundings 54, Summer 2013)

August 1, 2013

The Soundings Manifesto project is aiming to be part of an intergenerational dialogue about the best ways to resist neoliberalism and put forward alternative visions of a good society. This issue of the journal, as well as publishing two more instalments in the manifesto, carries articles that engage with and extend its arguments in a number of different directions. 

A recurring theme in these discussions has been the continuing importance of left traditions as sources of critical understanding for our current predicament (especially New Left thinking, and Gramscian understandings of hegemony and common sense). These ideas are now being taken up and developed by a new generation, while people who have their own distinctive critical traditions are also bringing their ideas to the discussion. At the same time there has been a renewed interest in history as a source of ideas, in terms of inspiration, lessons to be learned and alternatives to be recuperated.

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Vocabularies of the economy (Soundings 54, Summer 2013)

August 1, 2013

The language we use to discuss the economy shapes the way we think about it, and thus reinforces neoliberal values as common sense. The vocabulary of customer, consumer, choice, markets and self interest moulds both our conception of ourselves and our understanding of and relationship to the world. These ‘descriptions’ of roles, exchanges and relationships in terms of a presumption that individual choice and self interest does and should prevail are not simply descriptions but are a powerful means by which new subjectivities are constructed and enforced. Another set of vocabularies provides the terms through which the system describes itself and its functions. These frame the categories – for example of production, consumption, land, labour, capital, wealth – through which the ‘economy’ (as a supposedly distinct and autonomous sphere of life) is understood. These definitions constitute another element of ‘common sense’ – about the way the economic world ‘naturally’ is and must remain.

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A relational society (Soundings 54, Summer 2013)

August 1, 2013

This essay is primarily concerned with the kinds of relationship with others on which individuals depend for their well-being, through the various phases of their lives. It focuses particularly on the quality of our social institutions – in the spheres, for example, of health, education, work, criminal justice or citizenship – and argues that their quality depends substantially on what qualities of human relationship they facilitate. We are all dependent at various stages of our lives, and social provision needs to reflect this. Current neoliberal practices are undermining the quality of such provision. A final section considers the effects of a narrowly instrumental world view on relationships between humankind and the material world.

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The roots of the coup (Soundings 54, Summer 2013)

August 1, 2013

The role of young people and horizontal movements in the crisis in Egypt is discussed. More than fifty per cent of Egypt’s population are under twenty-five, and they have formed a strong centre and identity within the opposition movement. Most of these groups welcomed the army coup of July 2013. The problems of a simple celebration of ‘horizontalism’ can clearly be seen here; during the period of Morsi government there was little engagement by the revolutionary youth in the formal political process – a necessary part of moving from resistance to the construction of a new and democratic future. And, equally, the traditional and older left did not show themselves capable of turning themselves into organisations that young people would want to engage with. This failure of inter-generational engagement has led to the welcoming of the coup as a deus ex machina, a state above the state; the army has been called on to sort out militarily what civil forces could not sort out by themselves politically.

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Editorial: Where next? (Soundings 53, Spring 2013)

April 1, 2013

Neoliberalism and how to end its dominance has been a central concern in Soundings since its inception. In this issue, we carry the framing statement for our online manifesto, After Neoliberalism?, written by the journal’s three founding editors, Stuart Hall, Doreen Massey and Michael Rustin. The aim of the manifesto is to focus attention on the nature of the neoliberal settlement, including the social, cultural and political battles that have attended its emergence and maintenance - and those that might help bring about its demise. It argues that mainstream political debate largely avoids confronting the systemic failures that underpin the financial crash, preferring to believe that normal service will shortly be resumed. And as long as this belief continues, political debate will centre on the extent to which state spending should be cut rather than on how to secure a political economy in which all of us have enough to live on, and a society in which the common good displaces profit as the ultimate goal.

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After neoliberalism: analysing the present (Soundings 53, Spring 2013)

April 1, 2013

Examines the nature of the global neoliberal settlement, including the social, cultural and political battles that have attended its emergence and maintenance - and those that might help bring about its demise. Drawing on Gramscian concepts such as conjuncture and hegemony, it argues that the economic underpinnings of the current settlement are unravelling, but the broader political and social consensus is still largely in place. Therefore it seeks to challenges mainstream political debate, which largely avoids confronting the systemic failures that underpin the financial crash.

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Green shoots? Interview with Natalie Bennett (Soundings 53, Spring 2013)

April 1, 2013

An interview with Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party, who argues that her party occupies the large political space that was vacated when New Labour shifted to the right. Labour continues to be too cautious on many issues. For example on education it has not come out against free schools, and its academies policy in many ways opened up the way for current Tory practice. Other areas discussed include Greens and austerity in Brighton, energy policy, globalisation, ethical consumerism, and electoral reform - including the Liberal Democrats’ inability to persuade the Coalition government to deliver in this area.

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Why its still kicking off everywhere (Soundings 53, Spring 2013)

April 1, 2013

We are witnessing a global revolt against neoliberalism, especially from young people who believe that the system has failed to secure their future. This has been aided by the communications revolution, which assists the development of horizontal and networked groups. Critics of this kind of organisation tend to be shaped by a time when there were structured, hierarchical movements with clear counter-narratives and demands. This time has now passed, and current movements reflect the new realities as well as the nature of contemporary working life - fragmented, short-lived, ephemeral, lacking ties. But in spite of this the social movements are seeking to develop a counterpower within capitalism, and ways of living differently. And given that neoliberalism is incapable of delivering a secure future, it is likely that things will continue to kick off.

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Railways – beyond privatisation (Soundings 53, Spring 2013)

April 1, 2013

John Major’s 1993 railway privatisation was driven purely by ideology; the railways at that time were by and large well-run and efficient, while privatisation has seen a rise both in subsidies from the tax-payer and costs to the traveller, as well as failures of safety and maintenance, while money is siphoned off instead of invested. A centre left strategy for the railways could change all this - through a new strategic body, making the constituent part of the current system more accountable, and the gradual taking back of control of franchises as they come up for renewal. This should be combined with a renewed emphasis on community railways and an attempt to wrest control of rolling stock away from the banks, who currently own the lion’s share of this most profitable part of the privatised system. An incoming Labour government would be in a good position to transform the railways gradually – without significant costs and with increased community involvement and popular support.

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Has multiculturalism in Britain retreated? (Soundings 53, Spring 2013)

April 1, 2013

The authors argue that it is almost always misunderstandings of the meaning of multiculturalism that have been responsible for the view that it is in retreat. They define three form of multiculturalism. There is first the simple descriptive meaning – a society that includes people of diverse cultural identities; then there is the policy adopted toward this – for example legislation on equality before the law; thirdly there is multiculturalism as an ideology, which they argue is better understood in terms of a ‘vision for the nation’ that in different ways for different people incorporates the reality of multiculturalism into an understanding of what constitutes the nation. It is in this third area that most argument takes place, and most doubt about multiculturalism is expressed. In fact most contemporary leading politicians have made statements in support of inclusivity, including incorporating it into the nation’s sense of itself, and this leads to the authors to the conclusion that, though politicians like to argue that multiculturalism in retreat, this is not in fact the case.

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Editorial: Next generation feminism (Soundings 52, Autumn 2012)

November 1, 2012

Feminism was one of the most successful movements of the twentieth century, and the changes that have been achieved in women’s lives over the last forty years have been massive. Feminism’s cultural and social effects are seen everywhere, every day. But, as Tess Lanning points out in this issue, it is the liberal feminist strand that has been dominant in recent years - unsurprisingly, given the dominance of liberal discourses in all areas of life. In many ways what has happened to feminism has mirrored what has happened to social movements and socialism across the board during the neoliberal era: in the mainstream media and in political discourse more widely, the emphasis has been on individual empowerment at the expense of any recognition of structures of dominance, and on the promotion of celebrity spokeswomen; meanwhile activists have been turned into bureaucrats in the perpetual search for government grants, and for many choice has replaced equality. But Tess also argues that the last four decades of feminist thought and campaigning offer us a much richer range of resources if we take the time to revisit them - not just in the interests of helping to rebuild a more collective feminism but also of assisting in a wider democratic renewal.

Tess is calling for feminism and feminist campaigners to become part of a wider resurgence of political campaigning, in alliance with other movements that are embedded in people’s daily lives. Alison Winch is addressing a very different concern within the new generation of feminists, one which engages with the way in which neoliberalism has encouraged women to become enmeshed in the marketing and commodification of their own bodies. As Alison points out, the relentless intrusion of the market into personal lives means that friendship groups are now being mobilised as a means of self-policing the way women present themselves, while social networks are exploited to promote brands. Sisterhood is reduced to the passing on of dieting and fashion tips.

However, resistance to these new and intense forms of pressure on women is one of the main areas of recent feminist resurgence, and Alison also points to the popular cultural resources which offer alternative sources of identification - the personal is the political still. Jon Wilson looks at the personal encounter that makes up a large part of our experience of the state. He argues that politicians conceive of the state as delivering quantifiable abstract outcomes in large numbers rather than as consisting of groups of people carrying out services and in so doing interacting with other people. A top-down delivery model that ignores these interactions does not work, as successive centralised managerial initiatives have demonstrated. We need to renew the state because it is essential to people’s well-being, but we need to do it through dialogue and decentralised decision-making that can take account of the lived reality of people’s everyday lives.

When people turn to the state for financial assistance, they immediately become the subject of scrutiny: issues of personal responsibility and contribution pervade the debate on welfare support. There is currently a lot of support within the Labour Party for the idea of a more contributions-based approach, which some believe will help rally wider support for the system. Kate Bell and Declan Gaffney debate with Graeme Cook on the value of such an approach. And as part of our continuing debate on how best to sustain living standards Fran Bennett reflects on some of the problems of deciding what constitutes a living wage; while Steve Iliffe and Jill Manthorpe grapple with the question of services and funding for the growing older population.

From two very different perspectives on national identity and belonging - that of Nira Yuval-Davis and of Robert Colls - a surprisingly similar argument emerges. Nira argues that neoliberal globalisation and insecurity are combining to make it difficult for national governments to act effectively, and thus are creating a crisis of confidence in conventional politics. This is what is driving both ‘autochthonic political projects of belonging’ - defensive formations seeking to protect their local territory - and the movements of activist citizens that are often adrift from any national polity. Robert starts from a focus on British identity and concludes that the ingredients from which it was formerly constituted - empire, parliament, industry, royalty, the church of England - are either gone, in decline or transformed beyond recognition. It is no longer clear what a British identity could be based on, just as it is no longer clear how a national government can protect its citizens against global capital. The local and particular are everywhere under siege. Does this mean we need to reinvent patriotism, or can we see our way to living with more plural forms of identification and belonging?

Elsewhere in the issue Glyn Ford looks at the new leadership in North Korea, arguing that an opportunity may be opening up for a lessening of tensions. Finally Julie Froud, Sukhdev Johal, Mick Moran and Karel Williams of CRESC look at the plight of the ex-industrial regions and, in the absence of any national government strategy, put forward principles for locally based ‘guerilla’ campaigns for regional redevelopment; and Alan Sitkin reports from Enfield, where some of these principles have been taken up

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Feminism and democratic renewal (Soundings 52, Autumn 2012)

November 1, 2012

This article explores accusations that feminism only speaks to the concerns of middle-class women, and the possibilities for democratic renewal. It argues that the narrative of linear progress for women and broad arguments for ‘gender equality’ risk reaffirming the current economic and political model, and can obscure feminism as a set of transformative political demands that tackle the underlying structure of opportunities for women and men. It calls for a more democratic feminist movement, rooted in intra-feminist debate and women’s lived experiences, learning from some of the tenets of second-wave feminism. In particular, it calls for feminists to grapple with an alternative to the deep political and economic crises facing the country.

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Contributory welfare (Soundings 52, Autumn 2012)

November 1, 2012

Since the last election the main argument from the Labour leadership about its future agenda on welfare has been a call for a more ‘contributory’ system. This aspiration could form the basis for a rich policy agenda and a powerful political strategy. However, for these benefits to be realised, much greater clarity is needed about what kind of ‘contributory welfare’ is to be advanced and how it could be developed into a credible yet radical policy agenda. This paper attempts to bring greater focus to these crucial questions, drawing out the distinct arguments being made in favour of ‘contributory welfare’, the different strategic directions these embody, and some initial illustrations of the kinds of policy they might imply. 

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Must the ex-industrial regions fail? (Soundings 52, Autumn 2012)

November 1, 2012

This article focuses on the problems of worsening regional inequalities and the problems of ex-industrial regions, mainly in the UK but with some reference to the broader West European experience. It reviews the evidence of growing income and output inequalities between central regions and this new internal periphery and discusses the ensuing political tensions and conflict within different nation states around regional redistribution. It finally argues that the problems of the ex-industrial regions require a new kind of defensive political mobilisation around a new economic policy imaginary.

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Editorial: Scotland’s Future (Soundings 51, Summer 2012)

July 1, 2012

The issue opens with a discussion between Douglas Alexander and Gerry Hassan, in which they tease out some of the more interesting questions that lie behind what Gerry calls the loud voices and self importance of each camp in the battle between unionism and independence in Scotland. Though they have very different positions on independence, underlying their exchange are concerns about how equality and identity can be connected in politics; an understanding that most people hold multiple identifications; a rejection of exclusivist identities; a sense of nation that is not absolute; a focus on issues of poverty and inequality and how these intersect with identity; and a recognition that changes in civil society are often as important as constitutional change - though the two are also intertwined. Their dialogue is thus one in which real dilemmas and issues are defined, rather than positions shouted. As such it is an important contribution to the wider debate about the future of the multi-national British state, and the ways in which national and other identities are played out within it.

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Scotland, nationalism and the left: a conversation (Soundings 51, Summer 2012)

July 1, 2012

Can there be a politics that embraces both equality and identity?
A conversation between Douglas Alexander and Gerry Hassan

Douglas to Gerry
Before we get to where we’re going, I think it makes sense to be clear where we come from …

My mother worked as a doctor in the NHS. My father was a Minister in the Church of Scotland. Both of them were inspired by their Christian beliefs to engage in the common life of the community. My first home was ‘Community House’ in Clyde Street, Glasgow: the mainland base of the Iona Community. We lived above a café for the homeless and a meeting room in which UCS Shop Stewards gathered and the Scottish Branch of Anti Apartheid was formed. I was delivering Christian Aid envelopes even before I was delivering Labour Party leaflets. In the kitchen of my father’s manse was a poster that read ‘Live more simply so others can simply live’.

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Roundtable: Roll over Mick Jagger (Soundings 51, Summer 2012)

July 1, 2012

A roundtable discussion with Sarah E. Baker, Clare Coatman, David Floyd, Ben Little and Shiv Malik on generational politics.

David Floyd: Why generational politics?

Clare: There’s always been tensions between generations and their different views on society. They’ve got different deals from society as policy has changed. But recently I think there has been a crunch point between our generation and the generations before us around what we can expect, particularly in terms of access to education, university, housing and the jobs market. Our outlook is a lot gloomier than that of the baby-boomers. And this is an international trend. Youth unemployment is 50 per cent in Spain. Here it is significantly higher than for under-25s than for other demographics. The pressure that this causes highlights intergenerational politics as a frame with which to look at equality in society.

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Editorial: The New Labour Project (Soundings 8, Spring 1998)

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Writing the obituaries (Soundings 8, Spring 1998)

Interview with Patrick Wright

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Netanyahu’s Oslo: Peace in the slow lane (Soundings 8, Spring 1998)

John Strawson looks at the prospects for the Palestinian state.

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Karomat Isaeva’s tale as told to Colette Harris (Soundings 8, Spring 1998)

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The Perverse Modernisation of British Universities (Soundings 8, Spring 1998)

The conception of ‘modernisation’ being imposed on British universities seems to mean only so-called efficiency gains, competitive stratification through league tables, and students having to fund their own education as an investment in their future. This article argues that the virtues of the British system lie in its high quality, its intensity of teaching, and the broad scope of its educational mission. A truly ‘modern’ approach would seek to make the most of these qualities, not to undermine them.

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Dickens and Flaubert: A Tale of Two Housing Estates (Soundings 8, Spring 1998)

John Pitts contrasts Mitterrand’s innovative policies on young people and crime with the approach of new Labour

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Livstycket: Working with Immigrant Women (Soundings 8, Spring 1998)

Angela Leopold describes a project for ethnic minority women in Stockholm.

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Crossing cultural boundaries Marginalised children and families in the French school system (Soundings 8, Spring 1998)

Hassan Ezzedine and Alain Grevot describe a project for schoolchildren in France.

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Looking for the crevices Consulting with users of mental health services (Soundings 8, Spring 1998)

Helen Morgan describes an unusual initiative in user-consultation.

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Poems (Soundings 8, Spring 1998)

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Reviews (Soundings 8, Spring 1998)

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Mountain Bikes in Them There Hills: Is it about a bicycle? (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

Are mountain bikes green? Maggie Mort reports from the Yorkshire dales on conflicting demands for access to the countryside. She analyses mountain bikes as postmodern fashion accessories for the rich, and questions the attitude to nature which their current form entails.

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Balancing Act: Personal politics and anti-roads campaigning (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

Heather Hunt was involved with the recent Claremont Road protest against the building of the M11 link road through Hackney in East London. Here she talks to Doreen Massey about the experience of that campaign, and compares it with others, such as Greenham, in which she has been involved. But Heather is also a consultant psychologist. Like many public sector and professional employees, she is over-worked. Howcan we get a better balance in our lives, between formal work and more personal and political concerns?

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The echoing corridor: Music in the postmodern East End (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

Andrew Blake argues that one can ‘read’ a geographical region through its popular music. The place in question is East End London, and its music reveals a vibrant and creative intermixture of ethnic subcultures.

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The Lessons for Labour (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

November 1, 1995

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The commonsense revolution in Canada: En route to Smith Square (Soundings 17, Spring 2001)

Ian Taylor warns that recent political developments on the right in Canada may be the shape ofthings to come.

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The low carbon light at the end of the tunnel (Soundings 40, Winter 2008)

A green strategy for tackling the economic and credit crisis.

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The political deployment of race/ism: ‘One America’ and the strange election of George W. Bush (Soundings 17, Spring 2001)

In this extended essay, John Calmore analyses changes in patterns ofracism in the United States, and looks at the deployment ofrace within US political culture.

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The Sakhalin saga (Soundings 40, Winter 2008)

Michael Bradshaw discusses the complex interplay of interests that has shaped the history of the Sakhalin-2 project.

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Working at Sharpshock: A prison for young offenders (Soundings 17, Spring 2001)

Ruby Millington provides valuable insights as to why penal institutions do not find it easy to maintain a rehabilitative or therapeutic mission. Her article applies to adifferent field some ofthe approaches explored in our recent ‘States ofMindf issue (Soundings 15).

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Revitalising Europe (Soundings 40, Winter 2008)

The European Union has a crucial part to play in the reshaping of global political economy.

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A twentieth century life (Soundings 17, Spring 2001)

Merilyn Moos looks attwentieth century history from the perspective ofher mother’s life.

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Four poems in translation (Soundings 40, Winter 2008)

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The Politics of Flow: On Birmingham, Globalisation and Competitiveness (Soundings 17, Spring 2001)

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The law and order trap (Soundings 40, Winter 2008)

Contemporary popular discourses on crime continuously feed an authoritarian law and order Agenda

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Rerum cognoscere causas (Soundings 17, Spring 2001)

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Reimagining the facts of life (Soundings 40, Winter 2008)

What is most revolutionary about IVF is the way in which it has become so unremarkable.

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From Beswick to Brazil (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

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Contradictions in the contemporary welfare state (Soundings 38, Spring 2008)

Michael Rustin engages with some of the issues raised in Andrew Cooper’s article.

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New Deal in Kilburn (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

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Personalisation, education and the market (Soundings 38, Spring 2008)

Michael Fielding puts forward an argument for person-centred education, which is a very different thing from the government’s current personalisation agenda.

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Cleansing the Rascals from the Castle (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

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England and the ‘national-popular’ (Soundings 38, Spring 2008)

Andrew Pearmain discusses the question of Englishness.

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Whose community? (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

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Inequality and recession in the US and Britain (Soundings 38, Spring 2008)

The ‘new economy’ model pioneered in the USA and UK is leading to global instability, and to increasing levels of inequality.

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Berlusconi’s Finest Hour (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

GeoffAndrews analyses the reasons for Berlusconi’s success in Italy.

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Reviews (Soundings 38, Spring 2008)

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Through the Looking Glass: Alice in Asia (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

Glyn Ford looks at the crisis-ridden country of North Korea, and the global consequences ofa failure to give assistance to its beleaguered people.

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Are we all neoliberals now? ‘Responsibility’ and corporations (Soundings 39, Summer 2008)

Grahame Thompson advocates a policy of ‘in and against neoliberalism’.

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Editorial: Uncomfortable Times (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

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Anorexic and Passive Resistance: A Literary Case Study (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

Jane Desmarais looks atBartleby as a literary exemplar ofpassive resistance.

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Melancholic nation (Soundings 39, Summer 2008)

The New Labour prescription for Britain’s melancholia does not understand its underlying causes.

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Parties on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

Both right and left of British politics are in needof a ‘grand idea’. Stuart Hall examines the dangers on both sides of the political spectrum: the possibility of a new grand idea from the farright, and the lack of one - so far - on the left.

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After Blair: The Future of Britishness (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

Gerry Hassan andJim McCormick look at the lessons we can draw from Scottish debates on devolution and Britishness.

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Poems (Soundings 39, Summer 2008)

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England’s Screaming (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

Reflections on Englishness from an English football fan.

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Reviews (Soundings 39, Summer 2008)

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Old Fogeys and Angry Young Men: A critique of communitarianism (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

Beatrix Campbell argues that communitarianism represents the latest in a long line of attempts by men to reassert their power over women. Its focus on the family as a major source of community problems is a thinly disguised attack on women. And its refusal to investigate the parenting deficit between women and men is symptomatic of its wilful resistance to the insights of feminism.

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The Dull Consensus of Scottish Identity (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

Katie Grant argues that Scottish identity is a thing of the past.

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Whose Personalisation? (Soundings 40, Winter 2008)

Peter Beresford looks at some of the issues raised by the government’s rush to social care personalisation.

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Editorial: I’m Not an Economist but (Soundings 9, Summer 1998)

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The Protean British Identity in Britain and Northern Ireland (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

Cathal McCall looks at the peculiarities of the unionist version of Britishness.

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Reviews (Soundings 40, Winter 2008)

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Editorial: Avoiding Disenchantment (Soundings 9, Summer 1998)

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Devolution and Identities: The Experience of Ethnic Minorities in Wales (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

The new Assembly has raised some interesting questions about ethnic identifications in Wales

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Private equity and the credit crunch (Soundings 41, Spring 2009)

The mobile opportunism of private equity has made short shrift of its theorists legitimating narratives.

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Out of Hand: A Short Story (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

‘Fifty years ago, hand over heart, Rose McGuire Roberts stepped off the Windrush with her good hands, her dab hands, her handy hands.’ Jackie Kay’s short story takes a close look at the reality of life in the UK for the Windrush generation.

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Transforming the United Kingdom: The View from Dublin (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

The unmodemised nature ofthe British state may pose problems for those seeking tomaintain its Unity.

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Financial bubbles and economic crises (Soundings 41, Spring 2009)

Carlota Perez talks to Jonathan Rutherford.

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Christmas Cake and Calypso (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

Val Wilmer remembers the music of the Windrush generation, and the effect they had on British cultural life.

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Feminising Politics: Lessons from Scotland and Wales (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

What differences to political life and culture are being made by the increasing number of women representatives?

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Life on credit (Soundings 41, Spring 2009)

Debt addiction has for some time been widely encouraged. It is time to turn off the addicts supply

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Postscript (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

‘How far, then, have we come along the road to a multicultural society which the arrival of the Windrush put so irrevocably on the agenda?’ Stuart Hall reflects on the legacy of the arrival of the Empire Windrush fifty years on in 1998. 

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Keep the Clause: Section 28 and the Politics of Sexuality in Scotland and the UK (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

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Tax justice and secrecy jurisdictions (Soundings 41, Spring 2009)

Tax havens, once an unassailable part of the global Fiancial system, are now increasingly under threat - and that is good news for supporters of international social justice.

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Editorial: A Third Way with Teeth (Soundings 11, Spring 1999)

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Budapest’s Statue Park: Memorial or Counter-Monument? (Soundings 17, Spring 2001)

Photo Essay

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End of the line for general practice? (Soundings 41, Spring 2009)

The government’s current plans for primary care and general practice are likely to bring about the dismantlement of general practice as we currently understand it.

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Space for co-existence? (Soundings 12, Summer 1999)

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Rethinking ‘Global’ City Centres: A Rejoinder to Henry and Passmore (Soundings 17, Spring 2001)

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The problem with being private (Soundings 41, Spring 2009)

John Launer responds to Stephen Amiel.

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Crossing borders: Comparing ways of handling conflictual differences (Soundings 12, Summer 1999)

Cynthia Cockburn describes some of the collaborations of the Women Building Bridges Project.

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‘Boosterism of the Peoples’: Multicultural Economic Development and Globalisation from Below (Soundings 17, Spring 2001)

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The UK drug problem in global Perspective (Soundings 42, Summer 2009)

The current international anti-drug model - subscribed to by the UK - results in far more harm than good.

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Editorial: The Lessons of Kosovo (Soundings 13, Autumn 1999)

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Five poems (Soundings 17, Spring 2001)

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The living wage (Soundings 42, Summer 2009)

In spite of the minimum wage, many lowpaid workers continue to struggle to fund the necessities of life.

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Editorial: Where Are We Now? (Soundings 14, Spring 2000)

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Reviews (Soundings 17, Spring 2001)

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Relationship and dependency in the public sphere (Soundings 42, Summer 2009)

The importance of relationship is devalued in contemporary culture - even in health and welfare systems, where people are necessarily dependent.

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Singing Politics, Owning Names (Soundings 14, Spring 2000)

The political song movement is alive and well in Britain

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Four poems (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

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Does the end of life have to be hell? (Soundings 42, Summer 2009)

Rather than solely focusing on prolonging life, we need to address the problems of chronic bodily degeneration at the end of life.

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Editorial: Opening up Debate (Soundings 15, Summer 2000)

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Reviews (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

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Public service reform, the individual and the state (Soundings 42, Summer 2009)

Our approach to public services needs to be turned upside down, with the focus switching to relationships and networks.

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Editorial: The return of the political repressed (Soundings 16, Autumn 2000)

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The new world disorder (Soundings 19, Autumn 2001)

What follows is a slightly edited transcript ofa discussion recently organised by Soundings to think through some ofthe issues raised by 11 September.

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UK food security (Soundings 42, Summer 2009)

Peak oil, climate change and unstable commodity prices mean that British agriculture is in need of a radical transformation.

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Editorial: Inclusive Citizenship (Soundings 17, Spring 2001)

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Perry Anderson, the United States, and the present world conjuncture (Soundings 19, Autumn 2001)

Eli Zaretsky argues that a better understanding of the nature ofhistory and politics in the United States would be useful in the current crisis.

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Frames and conjunctures in present-day capitalism (Soundings 42, Summer 2009)

The complementary concepts of conjuncture and frame make recent events easier to understand.

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Editorial: Markets and Democracy (Soundings 18, Summer 2001)

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The Politics of Attachment: Personal and social influences on parenting and adult life (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

The arguments put forward by Amitai Etzioni on the so-called ‘parenting deficit’ are assessed by Lynne Murray in relation to scientific evidence. She shows that work outside the home for mothers is usually a factor beneficial, not harmful, to children’s development. There is no evidence, she says, to support the idea that women’s ‘selfishness’ is the source of present-dayparen ting problems.

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Thinking ahead: the new politics of knowledge (Soundings 19, Autumn 2001)

Knowledge is increasingly becoming acommodity, with trade in intellectual property rights and other forms ofknowledge lying atthe heart ofcurrent forms ofcapitalist accumulation. Can we protect the intellectual commons and create a commonwealth Ofknowledge?

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What crisis is this? (Soundings 43, Winter 2009)

What are the overlapping processes and contradictions that are coming together to produce our current sense of the present as crisis?

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Reviews (Soundings 60, Summer 2015)

Reviews by Thomas Muhr and Ali Brumfitt

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Editorial: Soundings discussions (Soundings 19, Autumn 2001)

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Unravelling Gene Biotechnology (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

In a piece of scientific advocacy, biophysicist Mae-Wan Ho examines the theoretical assumptions behind the practice and applications of gene biotechnology. She argues that the underlying paradigm on which the industry is built is fundamentally flawed. The implications of not recognising this are serious for both society and the environment.

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At the edge of asylum (Soundings 19, Autumn 2001)

Les Back reflects on chaos and progress

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Reflections on the present (Soundings 43, Winter 2009)

A conjunctural analysis of the current global financial crisis

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Reviews (Soundings 59, Spring 2015)

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Editorial: What is at Stake? (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

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Environmental Images and Imaginary Landscapes (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

Lola Young discusses the work of photographer Ingrid Pollard, and looks at the extent to which environmental issues are racialised.

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Flexploitation strategies: UK lessons from and for Europe (Soundings 19, Autumn 2001)

The authors analyse and documentstruggles against the neoliberal ‘flexibility’ agenda.

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The media and climate change (Soundings 43, Winter 2009)

Helen Bird, Max Boykoff, Mike Goodman and George Monbiot discuss media coverage of climate change with Jo Littler.

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Community number capture (Soundings 58, Winter 2014)

This article is about using community to tackle climate challenges. It concerns the tensions that can arise when grassroots community groups receive funding from government schemes designed to reduce carbon footprints through community. The difference between this bottom-up volunteering and top-down state funding uses the same word—community—but can mean very different things by it. It discuss the particular experiences of a Transition Town group who received funding from the Scottish Government. Both are interested in using community to tackle climate change, but in different ways. At root the tensions this funding created revolved around the introduction of numbers; whether demonstrating value for money, collecting data or measuring environmental relationship as a carbon footprint. The article argues that as states become increasingly neoliberalised, so too can their state funding further the rolling out of market principles into everyday life, including in environmental community groups. 

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Different Together: Women in Belfast (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

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What is to be done about boys? (Soundings 19, Autumn 2001)

Linda McDowell looks atsome of the myths about young working-class men

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Back to the future: culture and political change (Soundings 43, Winter 2009)

In a changing political climate we need to defend the hard-won gains of earlier battles for equality. Can the cultural sector play a more prominent role in this?

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Three poems (Soundings 57, Summer 2014)

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Editorial: The Dynamics of Class and the Radical Right (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

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Containing the car: Returning the streets to people (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

Can the car be dislodged from its dominance of the street?

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London diaries (Soundings 19, Autumn 2001)

Grazyna Kubica compares notes with Malinowski.

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What rights? Whose responsibilities? (Soundings 43, Winter 2009)

The Human Rights Act of 1998 needs strengthening, not qualifying.

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Effects of gravity: German coalition politics (Soundings 56, Spring 2014)

Discusses the new Grand Coalition government in Germany, and argues that there is a risk that the strong desire for stability in Germany could lead to a kind of anti-politics where antagonistic interests are not represented and negotiated. The Bundestag opposition in Germany is numerically small, and this makes it all the more important that they seek to articulate the views of the unrepresented. Discusses the main dilemmas facing political parties in Germany, with sections on the SDP and Agenda 21; the collapse of the FDP; the rise of the populist Alternativ für Deutschland; the identity crisis of the Greens; and the future coalition potential for Die Linke.

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Editorial: Regimes of Emotion (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

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The Ghetto is Calling (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

When will we start taking seriously the desperate plight of the Palestinians?

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Time to join the EMU? (Soundings 43, Winter 2009)

Joining a reformed EMU would be a good option for Britain.

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Poems (Soundings 38, Spring 2008)

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Editorial: dangerous times? (Soundings 21, Summer 2002)

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William Cobbett and the Invention of Popular Radical Journalism (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

Soundings should have regard for the great models of popular journalism of the past, says Michael Rustin. We shows in his article how many of the techniques of popular polemical writing were invented two hundred years ago by the great advocate of the rural working class, William Cobbett.

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Letters from the Palestinian ghetto, 8-13 March 2002 (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

Lena Jayyusi describes what it is like to live with the violence of the Israeli occupation.

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The injustice of unequal work (Soundings 43, Winter 2009)

Contributive injustice - the unequal sharing out of good and bad work - is a major contributor to class inequality.

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Four poems (Soundings 26, Spring 2004)

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Editorial: Fears and hopes (Soundings 22, Winter 2002 / 2003)

Modernisation or Marketisation

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Consuming in the Face of Hatred: Lifestyle and the gay advance (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

The lesbian and gay movement has emerged as a major political force. But it has done so at a time when male gay consumerism seems to signal - as elsewhere in society- the triumph of market alienation and depoliticisation. Simon Edge explores this conundrum and argues that the visibility of positive lifestyles engendered by consumerism can be an integral part of the political process.

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The economic policies of Gordon Brown and the treasury: Stability for what? (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

Stability for what?

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North Korea in transition (Soundings 43, Winter 2009)

Engagement, not sanctions, is the best policy towards North Korea.

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Food for thought (a recipe for disaster) (Soundings 22, Winter 2002 / 2003)

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Towards a Manifesto for Feelings (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

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Pakistan – a catharsis (Soundings 43, Winter 2009)

Time is running out for a democratic settlement in Pakistan.

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In but not of Europe’: Europe and its myths (Soundings 22, Winter 2002 / 2003)

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Making Spaces: Or, geography, is political too (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

In an increasingly ‘globalised’ world what are our rights to movement? And whatshould be the rights of ‘local people? Doreen Massey explores the politics of space and place, arguing that, from the local scale to the global, geography and power are inextricably related-and that we have a responsibility for the geographies we construct, and in which we live.

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Emotion management in an age of global terrorism (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

This is a slightly edited version of a public lecture at Brunel University, 4 October 2001.

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The housing disaster (Soundings 41, Spring 2009)

The encouragement of widespread speculation on houses was always an unlikely route to ‘affordable housing’.

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Editorial: Focussing the critique (Soundings 23, Spring 2003)

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Interpretations of the New World (Soundings 1, Autumn 1995)

Fred Halliday identifies surprising continuities in the shape of the international scene which has emerged since the end of the cold war. Communism, like colonialism before it, has turned out to be a diversion from the main line of capitalist world transformation predicted by Karl Marx.

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If you love your work, do you thank a careers counsellor? (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

The authors argue that emotional labour - for a long time an unrecognised part of career guidance, and then squeezed out of the system by managerialism - is now once more being recognised as crucial to this area of work.

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City pay (Soundings 41, Spring 2009)

A focus on the greed of financial elites is an oversimplifying response to the financial crisis.

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Rummaging in Trotsky’s dustbin. Or: what does the left need with history? (Soundings 23, Spring 2003)

An engagement with history should enable us to refuse the idea of an unremitting already known reality to which we all have to yield, argues Kevin Morgan.

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Knights Against the Nightmares (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

Tony Blair is emerging as a chivalric hero, who will rescue us from the demons of Thatcher’s Britain. But his politics of moral transcendence reflects the dissolution of a more rooted politics, based in people and their communities. Do we simply succumb to the tenderness of his wooing, or can we play a more active role in the battles?

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Unemployed and feeling worthless Reflections on the emotional experience of unemployment (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

Maria Lorentzon looks at the effects of unemployment on mental health.

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Iraq’s new ruling elite (Soundings 41, Spring 2009)

The misleading idea that Saddam’s regime could be replaced by an alternative elite of US-backed exiles bears heavy responsibility for the country’s instability.

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Editorial: A Market State? (Soundings 24, Summer 2003)

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The Rise of Neurogenetic Determinism (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

Neurogenetic determinism claims to explain everything - from violence in the streets to sexual orientation - in terms of properties of the brain or genes. These claims draw on the explosion of new genetic and neuroscientific techniques, but reflect a much older reductionist fallacy. This article analyses a sequence of falsely taken reductive steps and examines their consequences for both biological and social thinking.

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Emotional labour and cancer work Some reflections after a conference (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

In this article, Gay Lee reflects on the extent to which emotional labour as a concept can be usefully applied to the everyday practice of nursing.

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The undeserving poor (Soundings 41, Spring 2009)

As the undeserving poor become ever more closely associated with negative characteristics, the welladjusted majority can continue to enjoy the benefits of ‘meritocracy’ with easy minds.

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New Labour’s double-shuffle (Soundings 24, Summer 2003)

Stuart Hall looks at key elements in New Labour’s adaption of the neo-liberal agenda

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The Idea of a Sexual Community (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

Jeffrey Weeks explores the many - and complex - meanings of community.

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Involvement and emotional labour (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

Del Loewenthal argues that involvement a work can bring problems as well as benefits.

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Reviews (Soundings 41, Spring 2009)

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Editorial: Rocky times (Soundings 25, Autumn 2003)

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In Praise of Gender Confusion (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

Not being certain of your gender is less of aproblem than being too certain, argues Jungiananalyst Andrew Samuels

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Therapeutic nursing, emotional labour, economic exchange Is there a link? (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

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Poems (Soundings 41, Spring 2009)

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Editorial: Resisting Neo-liberalism (Soundings 26, Spring 2004)

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Dennis Potter’s Singing Detective: A Place in the Mind (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

David Bell explores the interior worlds of Dennis Potter

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The disappearance of convalescence (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

Bridget Towers looks at historical changes in convalescence provision. After being gradually dropped from the NHS in the postwar period, it may be due for a comeback.

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Academies: privatising England’s Schools (Soundings 42, Summer 2009)

Privatising schools will not solve England’s educational problems.

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The second wave: The specificity of New Labour neo-liberalism (Soundings 26, Spring 2004)

Jeremy Gilbert argues that all the talk about persuading New Labour to rethink is hopeless optimism, and that the only way to oppose its wholehearted embrace of neo-liberalism is to build popular opposition to the government, and to the global forces to which it is linked.

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Felipe’s Feast (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

A review of Felipe Fernandez-Armesto’s Millennium (Bantam Press, London, 1995)

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The emotional labour of police work (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

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Poems (Soundings 43, Winter 2009)

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Merry-Go-Round of Death (Soundings 26, Spring 2004)

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The Murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

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The refugee experience (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

Ian Robbins, who runs an NHS traumatic stress clinic, discusses the emotional experiences of refugees, and the difficult emotional regime they face in the United Kingdom.

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Reviews (Soundings 43, Winter 2009)

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Editorial: Public Life (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

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Principles into Practice: The South African Bill of Rights (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

Kader Asmal, formerly an exile and now a member of the South African government, discusses South Africa’s proposed bill of rights, which will eventually become part of the nation’s new constitution.

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Siege diaries (Soundings 21, Summer 2002)

Tom Kay was a student for five months at Birzeit University in the West Bank during the early part of 2002. He lived 150 metres from Ramallah town centre at a time when, under curfew, journalists were not able to get into town. This is an edited extract from his diary.

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Transforming welfare: new economics, New Labour and the new Tories (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

We need a transformation in welfare provision, but even more important are measures to tackle the underlying causes of inequality.

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Editorial: Frontier markets (Soundings 28, Autumn 2004)

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Systemic Injustice (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

In spite of the spectacular series of overturned convictions in the early 1990s, nothing has fundamentally changed for wrongly convicted defendants. In fact, the many changes introduced by Michael Howard have loaded the machinery even more heavily in favour of the prosecution.

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Subsistence in Serbia Apres le deluge, quoi? (Soundings 21, Summer 2002)

Richard Minns reflects on his travels in postwar Serbia.

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Filling the void: Burnley and the everyday politics of the BNP (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

What are the reasons for recent BNP electoral gains?

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Editorial: After Identity (Soundings 29, Spring 2005)

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The Vilification of Gay Men and Lesbians (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

In the recent ‘MOD Four’ case, it became clear that in Britain there is no legal basis for upholding the basic human rights of minorities.

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Disastrous differences: Tuesday 11 September, 2001 USA, 1973 Chile (Soundings 21, Summer 2002)

Elizabeth Silva looks at the different ways we remember events.

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The labourist tradition (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

A return to labourism - not the same thing as the Labour Party - may now be our best hope.

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Editorial: Beefing about the single currency (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

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Politics, Race and US Penal Strategies (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

The Right in Britain would love to follow recent trends in the US, and to rely more and more heavily for public security on punitive coercion rather than measures to promote social cohesion. Ethan Raup here outlines the disastrous situation in the US, and warns against any imitation.

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Two Poems: ‘September 11’ and ‘No such thing as precision bombs’ (Soundings 21, Summer 2002)

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After Copenhagen (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

It will take strong political will to overcome the sources of resistance to meaningful action on climate change.

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Refusing Ethnic Closure: A Women’s Therapy Centre in Bosnia-Hercegovina (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

Photo Narrative

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The Case for a Constitutional Court (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

In the last two decades the role of judges in Britain has become more politicised. John Griffith argues that this is a dangerous trend, and that contemporary problems in the area of public law can best be resolved through a constitutional court.

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Welcoming the monstrous arrivant: Responsibility at the limits (Soundings 21, Summer 2002)

What is the ethical relation between the self and the unknown - and possibly dangerous - other?

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The future of roads (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

We need a better road politics, to help us explore more imaginative possibilities for getting people out of their cars.

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Whose Heroes Does a City Remember? (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

Cynthia Cockburn reviews The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History by Dolores Hayden (The MIT Press, 1995)

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The Law and Social Rights (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

Keith Ewing argues that social and economic rights, especially for trade unions, need to be protected by statute. In addition, it should be Parliament, not the law courts, that is the guardian of these rights.

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Emotional and political landscapes of race (Soundings 21, Summer 2002)

Caroline Knowles explores ways in which race works in the lives of schizophrenics, and draws attention to some of the complex connections between our personal and emotional lives and the social and political structures in which they are embedded.

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Talking of mothers (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

Maternity is returning as a central subject of discussion: what effects does this have on our wider thinking?

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Editorial: Living Well (Soundings 30, Summer 2005)

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One Step Nearer Genuine Citizenship: Reflections on the Commission of Social Justice Report (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

Citizenship should still be based on rights and duties, argues Ruth Lister. But the nature of these rights and duties should reflect the massive changes that have taken place since the postwar settlement, especially the changes in women’s lives and the pervasive lack of security in employment.

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Covering (up) the ‘war on terrorism’: the master frame and the media chill (Soundings 19, Autumn 2001)

Bob Hackett offers a Canadian perspective on press responses to 11 September.

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Media prospects (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

Georgina Henry, Simon Bucks and Julian Petley talk to Joy Johnson about what the future holds for the media.

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A good-enough life: Developing the grounds for a political ethic of care (Soundings 30, Summer 2005)

Fiona Williams argues that a political ethic of care offers a new way of dealing with contemporary changes in family lives and family policies, particularly in providing a new political vocabulary that is more capable of connecting the two.

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Social Rights and Responsibilities (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

Anna Coote looks at the politics of social rights.

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Poems (Soundings 19, Autumn 2001)

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How soaring inequality contributed to the crash (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

Inequality is a cause, as well as an effect, of the crash.

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The politics of well-being (Soundings 30, Summer 2005)

Hetan Shah argues that the politics of well-being contains powerful insights which can inform the left across a range of issues, but there are also potential pitfalls.

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Law and Injustice: Is there an exit from the postmodern maze? (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

Bill Bowring looks at ways of theorising the relationship between law and justice, and between law and society. He argues that a fruitful approach to critical legal theory is to be found in the ‘critical realism’ associated with Roy Bhaskar.

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Reviews (Soundings 19, Autumn 2001)

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Making banks fit for purpose (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

Banking reform must be based on an alternative vision of their role in society - and a better understanding of their recent disfunctioning.

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Economics as if people mattered (Soundings 30, Summer 2005)

Andrea Westall suggests alternative ways of thinking about economics.

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The Divorce (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

The Windsor Spencer divorce is linked to a larger break-down. Anthony Barnett analyses the crisis of the monarchy and looks at the opposing solutions that Diana and Charles offer.

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Four poems (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

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Global crisis and the developing world (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

The slump - unlike the preceding boom - is only too inclusive.

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Human happiness and the stationary state (Soundings 31, Autumn 2005)

David Purdy argues that it is time for rich countries to stop seeking further economic growth.

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To Stanworth and Beyond: Reflections on DIY politics and the Anti-Roads Movement (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

Mike Waite reflects on contacts with the anti-roads movement, and considers the relationships, overlaps and distances between such ‘DIY’ protests and more familiar concerns, agendas and approaches on the left.

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British exceptionalism (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

Andrew Stevens looks at the Blair government’s lack of enthusiasm for a thoroughgoing modernisation of the British constitution.

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The political struggle ahead (Soundings 45, Summer 2010)

Only by understanding that the economic agenda is part of a wider social and political settlement will we succeed in opening up the debate on the alternatives.

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Editorial and Commentary (Soundings 31, Autumn 2005)

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What Kind of New Labour? (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

Socialism has contributed more to human progress than any other political movement. It fulfils many of the functions which used to be performed by religions. Like them, it has to pass through a reformation when changes come about in the economic and social conditions which inspired its birth and shaped its early years. This is such a time - a time when we should identify and adhere to basic principles of the faith but learn to deploy them in new ways.

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When Brown was red (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

Fraser MacDonald and Andy Cumbers revisit Gordon Brown’s classic socialist text, The Red Paper on Scotland.

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What comes after New Labour? (Soundings 45, Summer 2010)

New Labour was one response to the weaknesses of labourism. Is there a better one?

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Editorial / Commentary: The World Without Light (Soundings 32, Spring 2006)

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A Queer Way of Re-defining Masculinity (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

There is a correlation between male heterosexuality and crimes of violence: not all straight men are yobs, but nearly all yobs are straight. Gay men, in contrast, tend to show that being a man doesn’t have to involve machismo.

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Reviews (Soundings 20, Spring 2002)

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Rebuilding social-democracy in twenty-first century Britain (Soundings 45, Summer 2010)

What are the fundamental requirements for remaking social democracy?

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Al-Qaeda, Spectre of Globalisation (Soundings 32, Spring 2006)

Faisal Devji argues that Al-Qaeda should be understood as sharing many features with other international movements for social change, largely because it operates, as they do, in a global arena that offers little purchase for traditional politics.

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Californian Sketches (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

lain Chambers reflects on his travels in the sunshine state.

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Lest old acquaintance be forgot (Soundings 21, Summer 2002)

Geoff Andrews reflects on the ‘Demos tendency’, and the need when pontificating on the future to be able to think more clearly about the past.

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Greek myths (Soundings 45, Summer 2010)

The stories that we tell about the economy are part of the political battle.

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Rehabilitating Pacification: Then and now, Iraq and Vietnam (Soundings 32, Spring 2006)

Kurt Jacobsen shows how pacification has been rehabilitated as a viable strategy for the US military.

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Offside: Contemporary Artists and Football (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

As this year’s European Football Championship reaches fever pitch throughout the summer (the first international football competition to be held in this country for thirty years), an exhibition at Manchester City Art Galleries, working in collaboration with the Institute of International Visual Arts, provides an intriguing counterpoint to the competition. Offside! Contemporary Artists and Football presents us with thirteen international artists working in a range of media

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Five poems (Soundings 21, Summer 2002)

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Money manager capitalism and the global financial crisis (Soundings 45, Summer 2010)

It is time for a new model for running the economy.

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London inside-out (Soundings 32, Spring 2006)

Doreen Massey argues that we need to be more aware of the role of London in producing corporate globalisation.

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Going Global (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

Can we reconcile the gap between the local and the global in visual culture? Is this possible or even desirable? Is the ‘global’ just another name for Western culture calling the shots? Is the local’ just another name for parochial narrow-mindedness or even ethnic absolutism?

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Reviews (Soundings 21, Summer 2002)

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Carbon trading: how it works and why it fails (Soundings 45, Summer 2010)

Carbon trading is not the answer to tackling climate change.

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Man’s the Talk on Road’: A dialogue with young black people on their experiences of gun crime (Soundings 32, Spring 2006)

Ejos Ubiribo looks at the issues behind gun crime.

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Psychoanalytic conversations: The Writing of Adam Phillips (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

Angela McRobbie reviews three books by Adam Phillips: On Flirtation; On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored; and Terrors and Experts. All three books are published by Faber and Faber.

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Standing up as Jews (Soundings 22, Winter 2002 / 2003)

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Why I am a socialist (Soundings 45, Summer 2010)

The principles of a socialism for the twenty-first century are already largely present in the socialism of William Morris.

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The 1970s and after: the crisis of social democracy (Soundings 32, Spring 2006)

Pat Devine argues that we urgently need to find an alternative hegemonic strategy, capable of reversing the neoliberal triumph that was inaugurated in the 1970s.

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Mad Consumers? (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

The Sun argued that consumers were mad, not just the cows. But in fact, scientists have been more uncertain and consumers more rational than politicians gave them credit for. BSE exposed the failings of fifty years of industrialisation of food and farming.

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Visit to Western Villages Palestine (Soundings 22, Winter 2002 / 2003)

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Smile till it hurts (Soundings 45, Summer 2010)

Generation Y have been brought up on the fantasies of neoliberalism.

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Editorial: Convivial cultures (Soundings 33, Summer 2006)

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An Impossible Heroine? Mary Wollstonecraft and female heroism (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

Barbara Taylor reflects on what Mary Wollstonecraft can tell us about heroines - and heroes.

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Understanding Violence (Soundings 22, Winter 2002 / 2003)

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The left and reciprocity (Soundings 46, Winter 2010)

Reciprocity, properly understood, is a natural part of social-democratic politics.

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Westward look, the land is bright: Race and politics in the Andes (Soundings 33, Summer 2006)

Richard Gott discusses the emergence of important new political players in Latin America, often based on new alliances between the armed forces and indigenous movements.

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Heroes and Mother’s Boys (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

Jonathan Rutherford argues that men’s hero worship of other men has been part of their struggle to separate themselves from their mothers, and to secure themselves an identity.

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Living Cities: Making Space for Urban Nature (Soundings 22, Winter 2002 / 2003)

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Can trade unions become environmental innovators? (Soundings 46, Winter 2010)

What can we learn from the Lucas Aerospace workers?

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Editorial: Ecowars (Soundings 34, Autumn 2006)

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Heroes of History, Heroes of Phantasy: Idealisation, Masculinity and the Soldiers of Empire (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

Specific heroes are worshipped in specific times and places. Graham Dawson draws on Kleinian theories of idealisation to begin to understand hero worship as a phenomenon that is both psychic and social.

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Three lions ate my shirt (Soundings 46, Winter 2010)

Beyond the din of the vuvuzelas what was the impact of World Cup 2010?

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Tackling turbo consumption (Soundings 34, Autumn 2006)

Juliet Schor, co-founder of South End Press and The Center for a New American Dream, talks to Jo Littler about trends in contemporary consumerism.

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Keyboard Cowboys and Dial Cowgirls (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

Technological heroes are usually masculine. Kirsten Notten is searching for ways to create microwave amazons and dial cowgirls.

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Hope, passion, politics (Soundings 22, Winter 2002 / 2003)

Mary Zournazi interviews Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau

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The dynamics of public sector transformation (Soundings 46, Winter 2010)

Is it possible to reverse the tide?

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America’s Deputy Sheriff in South East Asia (Soundings 34, Autumn 2006)

Australia’s involvement in Timor

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After the Deluge: Politics and Civil Society In the Wake of the New Right (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

Michael Kenny argues that the different parties in recent debates over community share the assumption that we are now witnessing the triumph of civil society over the state. Tracing the origins and evolution of these claims, he discusses the problems of looking at social change in this way and critically analyses some contemporary conceptions of civil society.

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Italy’s new opposition (Soundings 22, Winter 2002 / 2003)

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Is India having a good crisis? (Soundings 46, Winter 2010)

If India has weathered the financial crisis, it is largely because of the remnants of its old developmental state model.

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The history of democracy in DR Congo (Soundings 34, Autumn 2006)

Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja charts the history of the Congo’s own democratic traditions, and argues that outside intervention has not assisted their development.

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What has Socialism to do with Sexual Equality? (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

Anne Phillips looks at current debates on equality and gender in the socialist tradition.

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The Poetics of Propoganda: David Widgery (Soundings 22, Winter 2002 / 2003)

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Six Poems (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

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Rethinking segregation (Soundings 34, Autumn 2006)

Bilkis Malek argues that incoherent ideas about the causes of segregation, including those of people who repudiate multiculturalism, risk returning us to the days of a British monoculturalism.

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Globalisation: Ten Frequently Asked Questions and Some Surprising Answers (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

This article challenges the fashionable view that globalisation has now created a new kind of international economic system.

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Geographical imaginations: Post-modern imperialism and the project of European political integration (Soundings 23, Spring 2003)

The project of European integration has been profoundly affected, in adverse ways, by the interventions in Kosovo.

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The return to elitism in education (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

A society’s attitudes to innate intelligence are closely correlated with its levels of inequality.

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Editorial: Left futures (Soundings 35, Spring 2007)

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Pictures at an Exhibition (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

Richard Minns interviews Liudmila Vasileva, a Russian born artist living and working in Bulgaria.

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The failures of privatisation (Soundings 23, Spring 2003)

Christian Wolmar looks at the failures of rail and tube privatisation.

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Pensions: time to vote with our money (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

The vast pool of ‘workers’ capital’ tied up in pension funds represents a potential source of leverage for the securing of more responsible corporate behaviour.

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Has the future a left? (Soundings 35, Spring 2007)

Zygmunt Bauman proposes two defining principles for the left, and argues that these principles will always need to be battled for.

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When Science Fails Us (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

Richard Levins looks at the dramatic failures of Euro-North American science, and argues for a science that looks more broadly at our relationship with the rest of nature. This is an edited version of his address on receiving the 1996 Edinburgh Medal.

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The meaning of modernisation (Soundings 23, Spring 2003)

In an edited extract from his recent book, Alan Finlayson looks at all the work the term modernisation does for New Labour.

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Reviews (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

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The other pleasures of postconsumerism (Soundings 35, Spring 2007)

Kate Soper promotes the attractions of a postconsumerist life-style - something that is of critical importance in winning wider support for a sustainable future.

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Welfare Settlements and Racialising Practices (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

The interaction between concepts of ‘race’, ethnicity and national belonging in the making and remaking of the welfare state in Britain.

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Sex, gender and migrations: Facing up to ambiguous realities (Soundings 23, Spring 2003)

Laura Agustin argues that there is a moral panic about trafficking in women, and that the issues are more complex than it might at first appear.

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The SNP and the ‘new politics’ (Soundings 45, Summer 2010)

Scottish independence would have a progressive impact both internationally and on the rest of the United Kingdom.

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Editorial: Politics and markets (Soundings 36, Summer 2007)

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A Race Against Time: Change and the Public Service in the New South Africa (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

A personal account of the struggle to transform South Africa’s racially divided welfare services

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Chickens come home to roast (Soundings 23, Spring 2003)

G.C. Harcourt looks at alternative, and more cooperative, ways of deciding wages and modernisation strategies - in both the public and private sectors.

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Reviews (Soundings 45, Summer 2010)

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New Labour, the market state, and the end of welfare (Soundings 36, Summer 2007)

Jonathan Rutherford looks at the connections between government and the insurance business in their joint project to reduce eligibility for sickness benefits.

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Perverse Incentives: An NHS Notebook (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

The NHS reforms have brought some expensive forms of competition into the cash-limited health service, and have created some curious incentives, not least for increasing costs, and for ‘treatment not care’. Maureen Mackintosh and Pam Smith have been keeping a notebook.

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New left, new pasts? (Soundings 23, Spring 2003)

Ilaria Favretto looks at the selective ways in which left parties look back on their history.

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Labour as a radical tradition (Soundings 46, Winter 2010)

Labour’s renewal lies in its traditions of mutualism, reciprocity and the Common Good.

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What’s wrong with happiness? (Soundings 36, Summer 2007)

Michael Rustin argues that greater well-being is unlikely to be promoted in a system whose main goal is increased economic efficiency.

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Cancer Ward (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

A patient’s view of the damage being done to our hospitals

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What can the left learn from 1968? The Czechoslovak crisis, the left in Western Europe, revolution and reform (Soundings 23, Spring 2003)

An exclusive focus on events in Western Europe can lead to the loss of understanding that could be gained from events such as the Prague Spring.

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Will women rise again? (Soundings 46, Winter 2010)

A roundtable discussion on women’s lives today

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Death as everyday life (Soundings 36, Summer 2007)

In words and photographs Cynthia Cockburn explores our discomfort and anxiety around the lifeless body.

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Grey Suits, No Hearts: Aliens in the National Health Service (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

Something strange is stirring in the wards of British 7V hospital dramas: 7V images of managers in the NHS are contrasting their ‘business culture’ with the real business of caring for patients.

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What can the left learn from history? (Soundings 23, Spring 2003)

Willie Thompson looks at the lessons of history for the left.

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The pension problem (Soundings 46, Winter 2010)

Pensions are best understood as coming from the preceding generation’s investment in the future.

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Editorial: Tales of the city (Soundings 37, Winter 2007)

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Public Pensions and the Private Sector: A New Way Forward (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

The current public pension system in Britain is fundamentally flawed and requires radical reform. The authors propose a Unified Funded Pension System which combines fully funded pensions with public pension expenditure to support the life-time poor.

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Public choice theory: the enemy of democracy (Soundings 24, Summer 2003)

Alan Finlayson looks at current arguments about depoliticisation, and the contribution that public choice theory, and the wider New Labour tendency to privilege the economic over the political, has made to this process.

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Italy’s moral crisis (Soundings 46, Winter 2010)

Italy’s weak left is unable to challenge the collapse of public morality being presided over by Berlusconi.

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The sound of the suburbs (Soundings 37, Winter 2007)

Rupa Huq argues that we need to reconceptualise suburban life

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Accountable Insiders? Reforming the Pension Funds (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

The pension funds hold our collective savings. Reforming them might improve our private investment record as well as supporting us better in old age. But can greater accountability be combined with more effective investment?

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PFI: The only show in town (Soundings 24, Summer 2003)

Jonathan Rutherford looks at the policies and infrastructure that have been put into place in order to create a new area of market activity.

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Europe’s periphery (Soundings 46, Winter 2010)

The economies of Central and Eastern Europe have become peripheral dependencies of the core EU states.

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Understanding Venezuela (Soundings 37, Winter 2007)

Francisco Dom’nguez charts the progress of the Bolivarian revolution.

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Ethics in the Investment Market (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

Brigid Benson talks to Candy Stokes about life as an ethical investment adviser.

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Social democracy in Britain and Europe (Soundings 24, Summer 2003)

Interview with Renzio Imbeni

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Deng Xiaoping and John Maynard Keynes (Soundings 46, Winter 2010)

China’s economic success is continuing testimony to the efficacy of Keynesianism.

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Living with difference (Soundings 37, Winter 2007)

Stuart Hall in conversation with Bill Schwarz

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Introduction: Who dares, fails (Soundings 3, Summer 1996)

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Complexity, Contradictions, Creativity: Transitions in the Voluntary Sector (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

Voluntary organisations stitch together, often in contradictory ways, people, society and the state. Anne Showstack Sassoon discusses the often innovatory nature of the voluntary sector in Britain and Hungary In two countries with very different histories

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Notes from Palestine January 2003 (Soundings 24, Summer 2003)

Adah Kay describes life in the Gaza strip.

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Reviews (Soundings 46, Winter 2010)

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Editorial: Cultures of Capitalism (Soundings 38, Spring 2008)

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Grants, Contracts and NGO Accountability in the North and South (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

Sarabajaya Kumar and Ann Hudock look at the contentious issues of accountability that arise when NGOs contract to provide services

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Veil of influence: The legacy of John Rawls (Soundings 24, Summer 2003)

Michael Saward looks at the influence of the work of John Rawls.

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Markets and migrants in the care economy (Soundings 47, Spring 2011)

Caring in the rich parts of the world is now an industry - and one that is heavily dependent on low-paid workers from the global South.

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The culture of capitalism (Soundings 38, Spring 2008)

Jonathan Rutherford looks at contemporary changes in the practices and cultures of capitalism.

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Stakeholder Cooperatives in European Welfare (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

The ‘non-profit’ or ‘voluntary’ sector is a key terrain for innovation in welfare systems. Across Europe, users and producers of welfare services are responding to deteriorating state provision by creating a new type of organisation. Carlo Borzaga describes these ‘stakeholder cooperatives’.

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Christopher Hill An appreciation (Soundings 24, Summer 2003)

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Workfare and the precariat (Soundings 47, Spring 2011)

Workfare is the wrong policy response to the insecurities and inequalities of a flexible market economy.

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Happiness in a society of individuals (Soundings 38, Spring 2008)

Zygmunt Bauman looks at the ways in which ideologies of privatisation shape our desires, and at the reasons they are unlikely to be fulfi lled.

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Thinking collectively in the Public Domain (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

We need to reconstitute a public domain based on active citizenship, which would be an arena for public learning, for seeking responses to new problems. John Stewart explores some of the innovations in democratic practice that can strengthen that public domain.

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Alastair Campbell, exit stage left: A new chapter in political communications or just another spin? (Soundings 25, Autumn 2003)

Ivor Gaber argues that, notwithstanding the welcome the Phillis Report has received in some quarters, it is unlikely to herald any significant change in government communication strategy.

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Speaking to power (Soundings 47, Spring 2011)

How to make public services more humane, effective and accountable

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Race in neo-liberal times (Soundings 38, Spring 2008)

George Shire looks at the ways in which processes of racialisation have been reworked in the neoliberal era.

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Poems (Soundings 2, Spring 1996)

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Regions, democracy and the geography of power (Soundings 25, Autumn 2003)

The authors argue that new ways of thinking about regions and territoriality have big implications for regional policy within Britain.

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The future is conservative (Soundings 47, Spring 2011)

Labour must embrace a conservatism that values what is shared in common, rather than a liberalism that promotes individual distinction and difference.

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A new politics of class (Soundings 38, Spring 2008)

Jon Cruddas talks to Jonathan Rutherford about socialism, class and the Labour Party.

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Poems (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

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Paradise postponed or regained? The strange case of Scotland (Soundings 25, Autumn 2003)

Gerry Hassan looks at the state of play in Scottish politics.

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Leadership, democracy and organising (Soundings 47, Spring 2011)

Rethinking political leadership will play a crucial role in rebuilding the Labour Party.

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Editorial: Living in interesting times (Soundings 39, Summer 2008)

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Colluding in the Backlash? Feminism and the Construction of ‘Orthodoxy? (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

Rosalind Gill argues that to talk of feminism as an orthodoxy is to play into the hands of those who call us ‘femi-nazis’ or ‘political correctness thought police’.

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The Sicilian paradox (Soundings 25, Autumn 2003)

Geoff Andrews, in one of a series of articles on Italy, looks at the case of Sicily, and the ways in which it illuminates some of the key questions in Italian politics.

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Where next for Social Liberals? (Soundings 47, Spring 2011)

Is it ideology, rather than necessity, that is driving the Liberal Democrat leadership?

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China: changing the rules of the game (Soundings 39, Summer 2008)

Lin Chun discusses the prospects of the third phase of reform in China.

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Beyond the Community Romance (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

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Is the Eurozone headed for economic deflation? (Soundings 25, Autumn 2003)

George Irvin argues that, unless the EU moves away from its current embrace of neo-liberal economic orthodoxy, Europe could be facing a period of deflation - with all the social and political problems this is likely to bring.

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Green shoots down under (Soundings 47, Spring 2011)

The Greens are showing the way for left progress in Australia.

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Editorial: The Clintonisation of Labour (Soundings 4, Autumn 1996)

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Latin America and Free Trade (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

Duncan Green examines the impact of free trade ideology on Latin America, exploring the human cost of the region’s ‘Silent Revolution’ since the onset of the debt crisis in 1982.

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Paul Hirst (1946-2003): A personal appreciation (Soundings 25, Autumn 2003)

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How the campaign to stop the third runway was won (Soundings 47, Spring 2011)

How to win change through persistent campaigning

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Editorial: End of an era (Soundings 40, Winter 2008)

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Notes from a Journey to South Africa (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

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Five poems (Soundings 22, Winter 2002 / 2003)

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Review: the possibilities of democracy (Soundings 47, Spring 2011)

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Editorial: Recession Politics (Soundings 41, Spring 2009)

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Metisse Narratives (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

Jayne Ifekwunigwe discusses the testimonies of women of ‘mixed race’ parentage in the English- African diaspora.

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Reviews (Soundings 22, Winter 2002 / 2003)

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From national rites to privatised rights – sport since 1999 (Soundings 47, Spring 2011)

Has the relationship between sport and national identity gone for ever?

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Editorial: Killing fields of inequality (Soundings 42, Summer 2009)

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Community, Creativity and Society (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

Science is engaging with new ways of understanding and relating to the world of complex and unpredictable phenomena. This article explores some biological and social implications.

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Global democracy and the Iraq crisis (Soundings 23, Spring 2003)

Michael Rustin connects the debate about Iraq and war to competing theories of the new world order, notably Bobbitt’s The Shield of Achilles and Hardt and Negri’s Empire. He argues that a system of sovereign states joined in an international legal order remains the only defence of democratic principles against a new imperialism - the global capitalist system dominated by a military superpower.

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Crisis in the Eurozone (Soundings 47, Spring 2011)

Many of the most serious errors in EU economic policy stem from a basic failure to understand how market economies function.

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Constructing a left politics (Soundings 42, Summer 2009)

It is time to slough off neoliberalism and return to a politics of social justice

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Media Soundings (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

We still need public service, insists James Curran. It needs to be free and open, representative and diverse.

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Capturing the Labour Party: A masterplan that went wrong (Soundings 23, Spring 2003)

Capturing the Labour Party was always a doomed strategy for the left, and this failure helped to pave the way for New Labour’s insurgency.

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The community of things (Soundings 48, Summer 2011)

Why progressive politics needs to recognise the social side of materialism

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Editorial: Business as usual (Soundings 43, Winter 2009)

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Political News (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

What’s the story?

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Five poems (Soundings 23, Spring 2003)

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When the party is over: Labour in Scotland and Britain (Soundings 48, Summer 2011)

Labour needs new thinking on the future of social democracy, and of twenty-first century nation states - both in Scotland and Britain.

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The patriot’s game (Soundings 43, Winter 2009)

The English left needs a model of civic nationalism if England is to have a progressive future.

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Wallace and Gromit: An Animating Love (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

Wallace and Gromit have become national heroes. What’s it all about?

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Reviews (Soundings 23, Spring 2003)

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Berlusconi of the left? (Soundings 48, Summer 2011)

Does the rise of Nichi Vendola in Italy offer new hope for the left?

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Fear of a black president (Soundings 43, Winter 2009)

In the US a barely concealed racist backlash is helping to undermine fragile moves towards progress.

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Pecs and Penises’: The Meaning of Girlie Culture (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

From the Spice Girls to More! magazine, images of confident and sexually assertive young women proliferate across the media. Is this new feminism? Or simply new fun ?

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Youth groups and the politics of time and space (Soundings 24, Summer 2003)

Nora R_thzel looks at the ways in which a group of marginalised young people seek to make sense of their world.

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The EU crisis: integration or gradual disintegration? (Soundings 48, Summer 2011)

The only way the EU can avoid disintegration is to move towards greater integration.

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Editorial: everything to play for (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

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The Cultural Politics of Dance Music (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

David Hesmondhalgh examines new forms of production in the music business, and asks what we can learn from the dance music boom.

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The making of political identity: Edward Thompson and William Cobbett (Soundings 24, Summer 2003)

Mike Rustin looks at the crucial role played William Cobbett in the formation of Edward Thompson’s identity as a writer and a radical.

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The privatisation of stress (Soundings 48, Summer 2011)

The numerous pathologies generated by neoliberalism can only be cured within a revivified public sphere.

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Ethical socialism (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

A re-engagement with the traditions of ethical socialism offers valuable insights for the renewal of the centre left.

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Enter, Stage Right: Neoconservatism, English Canada and the Megamusical (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

Megamusicals and global culture: an international diet of McTheatre for the masses?

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Five poems (Soundings 24, Summer 2003)

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Relational welfare (Soundings 48, Summer 2011)

The welfare state is based on an outdated, transactional model, and needs to be replaced with something that is shared, collective and relational.

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The broken society versus the social recession (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

How should we approach the social problems of a post-crash Britain?

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The New Communications Geography and the Politics of Optimism (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

Is Bill Gates the future? Al Gore and New Labour seem to think so. Kevin Robins thinks not.

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Is the BBC fit for the twenty-first century? Alan Fountain (Soundings 25, Autumn 2003)

Until recently the BBC was in pretty confident mood, in spite of possible threats from the Communications Bill. But in the last few months it has been under increasing political pressure. The row over the government’s dossier on Iraq was swiftly followed by Tessa Jowell’s announcement of a major new enquiry into all aspects of the corporation. Here Alan Fountain discusses a wide range of issues for the future of public broadcasting in Britain.

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English socialism – regional accent? (Soundings 49, Winter 2011)

Drawing on the many rich traditions that still exist within the regions and nations of Britain is a potential pathway to a renewed socialism nationally.

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Interpreting the crisis (Soundings 44, Spring 2010)

Doreen Massey and Stuart Hall discuss ways of understanding the current crisis.

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Heat from a Small Fire (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

Hollywood meets Alice Springs ? Who has the last laugh? Tony Dowmunt reports.

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Five poems (Soundings 25, Autumn 2003)

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Democratic localism (Soundings 49, Winter 2011)

Some on the left see only two versions of localism, but we need to discover a third.

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Editorial: Eye of the storm (Soundings 45, Summer 2010)

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What lies between Mechatronics and Medicine? The Critical Mass of Media Studies (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

Media Studies: What’s the fuss about?

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Reviews (Soundings 25, Autumn 2003)

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Relational economics (Soundings 49, Winter 2011)

Recognising that economic life involves networks, connections and relationships is an important part of rethinking the economy.

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Labour in a time of coalition (Soundings 45, Summer 2010)

A roundtable discussion on what the future holds for Labour.

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What kind of Europe? A view from the periphery (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

Eastern Europe and the Southern Mediterranean are emerging today as preferential partners of the EU. Official rhetoric, however, tries to mask the simultaneous processes of marginalisation and exclusion of these ‘other’ places, which also involve some of the less developed EU regions.

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The New Labour Debate (Soundings 26, Spring 2004)

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The entrepreneurial state (Soundings 49, Winter 2011)

Overlooking the key role of the state in promoting innovation is one of the biggest mistakes of market fundamentalism.

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Labour’s good society (Soundings 46, Winter 2010)

The Conservatives’ Big Society is an attempt to move in on ground vacated by New Labour, but a good society requires more than rhetoric about volunteering.

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German reconcilings (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

A trip to Berlin becomes a passage between a mother and a daughter, racisms old and new, East and West, past and present.

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Roundtable: Thinking the Global Locally (Soundings 26, Spring 2004)

In the lead up to the European Social Forum which will take place in London in autumn 2004, Soundings asks how we might organise politically to take account of the global influences on local places and the influence of the local on the global. This question goes to the heart of creating new forms of radical politics that can meet the challenge of a globalising world. The discussion was chaired by Jonathan Rutherford, a member of the Soundings editorial group.

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Who benefits from the crisis in Ireland? (Soundings 47, Spring 2011)

The future incomes and savings of Irish citizens have been handed over to an EU/IMF debt-collection agency acting on behalf of Europe’s banks.

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Editorial: Poor Law Britain (Soundings 47, Spring 2011)

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One day last Summer (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

Photos of Nelson Mandela’s trip to South Africa House

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Shuffling Back to Equality? (Soundings 26, Spring 2004)

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A left communitarianism? What about multiculturalism? (Soundings 48, Summer 2011)

A more plural approach can help to heal breaches both within the ‘multicultural community’ and beyond.

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The misuse of evidence in incapacity benefit reform (Soundings 47, Spring 2011)

The use and misuse of evidence in the benefits debate

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The price of equality: Affirmative action in the United States (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

Here is a political puzzle - a sort of philosophical brain-tease - which Americans must learn to solve. It concerns ‘affirmative action’, meaning all the government and private-sector policies designed to create more opportunities for minorities and women. (Of course, as European societies grow ever more diverse, this puzzle might begin to look less and less like a typically American problem.)

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Customer- focused government (Soundings 26, Spring 2004)

Catherine Needham argues that to see public service users as customers is to impoverish the notion of citizenship.

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Reframing child poverty (Soundings 48, Summer 2011)

What lessons can we learn from the limitations of Labour’s efforts to end child poverty?

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Worthy of all praises’: Muhammad Ali and the politics of identity (Soundings 47, Spring 2011)

How a battling Muslim achieved global appeal

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The medicalisation of modern living (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

Joanna Moncrieff argues Chat psychiatry is a disguised form of social control which, despite a history of resistance, is currently increasing its power.

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Rethinking audit and inspection (Soundings 26, Spring 2004)

Michael Rustin criticises the dominant systems of public service audit, arguing that they are undermining belief in the public sector. He proposes instead more constructive forms of inspection, which place emphasis on working together for improvement rather than on regulation through sanctions and competition.

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‘You don’t talk about love in government’ (Soundings 48, Summer 2011)

A roundtable discussion on Sure Start and the first three years of life

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The neoliberal revolution (Soundings 48, Summer 2011)

Thatcher, Blair, Cameron - the long march of neoliberalism continues.

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A Brief History of Life, the University and Everything in 7.9 Chapters (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

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The Blairlusconi phenomenon (Soundings 26, Spring 2004)

Geoff Andrews sees some disquieting parallels between Blair and Berlusconi.

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‘Dependency’ and disability: how to misread the evidence on social security (Soundings 49, Winter 2011)

Contemporary narratives on ‘welfare dependency’ turn on airbrushing long-term disability out of the evidence.

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Ideology and economics in the present moment (Soundings 48, Summer 2011)

Battling our way out of the neoliberal terrain requires new thinking on ideology as well economics.

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A winter’s journey: Notes on the social democratic sublime (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

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Pakistan at a crossroads (Soundings 26, Spring 2004)

Sayeed Khan looks at the history of relations between Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, and detects some hope for progress in Kashmir.

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Cuts are a feminist issue (Soundings 49, Winter 2011)

The government’s cutbacks in social provision are privatising work that is crucial to the sustenance of life.

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The crisis of a social system (Soundings 48, Summer 2011)

Is the current political settlement sustainable?

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Ecstasy in the Unhappy Society (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

Jonathan Keane looks at contemporary youth’s most popular anti-depressant.

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For Edward Said (Soundings 26, Spring 2004)

This appreciation of Edward Said, the distinguished literary scholar, cultural critic and courageous advocate for the cause of the Palestinian people, was first given at the opening of the Oxford staging of the IniVA exhibition The Veil.1 The exhibition was dedicated to Said, who died in November 2003 at the age of 67, after a twelve year struggle with leukaemia.

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Reviews (Soundings 49, Winter 2011)

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Editorial: Speaking for England (Soundings 49, Winter 2011)

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Not Such Tolerant Times (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

Amidst the political adulation of ‘Asian traits’, and claims to an ‘inclusive’ national identity, Britain remains intolerant of South Asian youth.

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The new political economy of public life (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

Robin Murray argues that we need to refocus debates about the role of the state, onto questions of production rather than circulation.

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Where did it all go wrong for George Osborne? (Soundings 49, Winter 2011)

It is the government’s policies that are causing economic stagnation, not the wider economic crisis.

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Time for an optimistic Englishness (Soundings 49, Winter 2011)

We need a new debate on Englishness.

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Reading identity: Young Black British men (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

Fiction by young black writers is one place where different stories can be told.

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Re-designing prisons for the twenty-first century (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

Drawing from her work with the prison service, Hilary Cottam outlines a new model for public service provision.

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‘Cars not casinos’: the manufacturing revival (Soundings 49, Winter 2011)

Recent steps to rebalance the economy towards manufacturing are welcome, but need strengthening.

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The benefits scandal (Soundings 49, Winter 2011)

The government is withdrawing the support that enables disabled people to work, while simultaneously arguing that more of them should be working.

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Underworked and underpaid (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

Free market logic says that low pay creates jobs. Has this worked for young people?

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My Jihad: A personal reflection (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

Amir Saeed describes the changing nature of his Islamic political identity.

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‘Managed’ v ‘market capitalism’: the record (Soundings 49, Winter 2011)

On almost every measure, the managed capitalism of the postwar era beats its ‘free-market’ successor

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Editorial: Questions Which Remain (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

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New unionism in the 1990s (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

US unions are being boosted by an injection of new young energy. Could it happen here? The TUC wants to shed the image of unions as exclusive institutions for the middle-aged male.

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The future of New Labour (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

More in our series of short contributions on future directions for the Labour Party.

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Wanted – a new strategy for the centre left (Soundings 50, Spring 2012)

A convincing strategy for the centre left requires a more radical rethink than we have so far seen from Labour.

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Wrong and wrong again: Woman for Peace in Israel (Soundings 5, Spring 1997)

A Photo-Narrative

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Paradigm lost? Youth and pop in the 90s (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

Youth culture in the 1990s has been redefining itself around two vibrant musical forms - dance and Britpop.

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Saints or spinners: Is Compass part of the problem or part of the solution? (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

Neal Lawson argues that Compass is making an important contribution to rethinking labour politics.

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Reflecting on the student movement (Soundings 50, Spring 2012)

A dialogue between Guy Aitchison and Jeremy Gilbert

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Editorial: Where’s Labour (Soundings 50, Spring 2012)

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That’s entertainment’ Generation X in the time of New Labour (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

Mike Kenny argues that youth disaffection is part of a wider picture of social fragmentation.

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DEMOS (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

Geoff Mulgan defends the record of Demos.

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What happened to democratic leadership? (Soundings 50, Spring 2012)

Recent debates on democracy can benefit from an exploration of democratic organisation in a broader context, especially in the field of work.

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Bypassing Politics? The contradictions of ‘DiY culture’ (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

Peter Gartside explores aspects of ‘DiY Culture’, arguing for a critical engagement with, and differentiation of, this loose ‘movement’. Can we ‘understand’ this style of politics according to existing notions of what constitutes ‘radical’ politics.

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Safe in their hands? New Labour and public service broadcasting (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

New Labour took power professing qualified support for public service broadcasting. Jonathan Hardy assesses whether it remains secure in their hands.

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The de-industrial revolution (Soundings 50, Spring 2012)

Communities thrive better in a mixed economy

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The Break-up of the Conservative Nation (Soundings 7, Autumn 1997)

Bill Schwarz charts the downfall of the Tories, and the collapse of the conservative nation which lies behind it.

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Thinking the global locally: Discussion contributions from Oscar Reyes and Monica Stephens (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

Two responses to some of the issues raised in our Soundings 26 discussion on the global and the local.

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A beautifying lie? Culture and kitsch @ London2012 (Soundings 50, Spring 2012)

Whose story will be told in the Isle of Wonders fable?

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Venezuela: another good example under threat (Soundings 51, Summer 2012)

The Bolivarian revolution has massively improved the lives of ordinary Venezuelans.

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The Uncanny Family (Soundings 7, Autumn 1997)

The mind/body split of the old Enlightenment is being widely rejected. The family - in its widest sense - is one place where it may be possible to rethink the importance of affect for true reason.

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The US in Latin America (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

The Bush administration is intensifying economic and military pressure on what it still regards as its backyard.

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Red, white and blue Labour (Soundings 50, Spring 2012)

What would a flag-waving English left look like?

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Economic Globalisation and the Nation State: The Transformation of Political Power? (Soundings 7, Autumn 1997)

What is the extent of globalisation in the late 1990s? And what are its effects on politics?

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The factory and the beehive: Argentina versus the International Misery Fund (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

Richard Minns visits some of the grass-roots organisations in Argentina that are providing hope for the country after years of neo-liberal misery.

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The Euro crisis, European neoliberalism and the need for a European welfare state (Soundings 50, Spring 2012)

The current European crisis was not caused by excess public spending and it will not therefore be solved by further downward pressure on living standards.

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States Under Pressure (Soundings 7, Autumn 1997)

Basil Davidson argues that the Kabila regime in the Congo is very good news for the African continent.

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Recycling hope (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

A message from Argentina

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Learning from Latin America (Soundings 50, Spring 2012)

Instead of expending our energy on constant critique, we should be learning from the progressive changes in Latin America.

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A genocide foretold & Testimony of a survivor (Soundings 7, Autumn 1997)

Rakiya Omaar argues that repeated failure to punish Hutu mass murderers feeds a culture of genocide in Rwanda. And a survivor of the genocide gives his testimony

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Water: Frontier Markets and Cosmopolitan Activism (Soundings 28, Autumn 2004)

Bronwen Morgan argues that the nature of water as a basic human need gives it a special significance in struggles over privatisation. This creates opportunities for interesting new forms of international solidarity.

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A popular environmentalism (Soundings 51, Summer 2012)

Making the connections between nature, place and people

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The Ecology of Public Services (Soundings 28, Autumn 2004)

Brendan Martin analyses some of the necessary conditions for the flourishing of public services.

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Waking the green giant (Soundings 51, Summer 2012)

How can we nurture a stronger sense of connection to our environment and local spaces?

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Photofeature: Portraits of Africa (Soundings 7, Autumn 1997)

Photos portraying life in Africa moving beyond representations of victims

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Brands, Property and Politics (Soundings 28, Autumn 2004)

Liz Moor argues that the contemporary significance of branding raises important questions about the relationship between property and identity.

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The great transformation in the global labour market (Soundings 51, Summer 2012)

The global auction for jobs means that many university educated workers are finding themselves in a competition for cut-priced brainpower.

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Tales from the frontline of regeneration (Soundings 52, Autumn 2012)

How the London Borough of Enfield is changing the rules of the game.

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Angola under attack (Soundings 7, Autumn 1997)

In an extract from her forthcoming book, Death of Dignity, Victoria Brittain describes the assault on Angola in the 1980s.

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Cosmopolitan democracy or multipolar world order? (Soundings 28, Autumn 2004)

Chantal Mouffe argues that we need to find ways of giving international expression to a plural world order.

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Financing growth: private portfolios and public investment (Soundings 51, Summer 2012)

What is the best form of public investment in industry?

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They Were Better (Soundings 7, Autumn 1997)

Extract from a play by Ngugi Wa Mirii

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A place in the sun? Repression and desire in Andalucia (Soundings 28, Autumn 2004)

In memoriam Peter Sedgwick (1934-1983)

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The case for a national investment bank (Soundings 51, Summer 2012)

Public sector borrowing for investment can play a major role in securing private growth.

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Cost-recovery, Adjustment and Equity in Health: Some Lessons from Zimbabwe (Soundings 7, Autumn 1997)

Kevin Watkins looks at the problems caused by the imposition of inappropriate neo-liberal policies in Zimbabwe and other parts of Africa.

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Eurozone economics, enlargement and the Maastricht rules (Soundings 28, Autumn 2004)

George Irvin argues that, post-enlargement, Europe is more than ever in need of a rethinking of the Maastricht rules.

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We need to talk: how to renew the state (Soundings 52, Autumn 2012)

We need to recognise that every state action always takes place within a concrete, particular and local situation.

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Mozambique – under new management (Soundings 7, Autumn 1997)

How an African country came to be controlled by international businesses and aid agencies.

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Missing in Action: The New Deal Legacy in American Politics (Soundings 28, Autumn 2004)

Norman Birnbaum looks at the history of the social democratic tendency in US politics.

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The contributory welfare debate (Soundings 52, Autumn 2012)

We need a clear understanding of which parts of the welfare state should be contributory, and the context in which any contributory system will operate.

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Corruption and the State: The Warioba Report (Soundings 7, Autumn 1997)

This is an edited part of the English language summary of the Warioba Report, published in Tanzania in 1996.

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Richard Rorty interview (Soundings 28, Autumn 2004)

Stefan Howald talks to US philosopher Richard Rorty.

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Healthy ageing, unhealthy politics (Soundings 52, Autumn 2012)

How can we redesign funding and services to keep up with demographic change?

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The Role of the NUM in South Africa: I Introduction (Soundings 7, Autumn 1997)

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Reviews (Soundings 26, Spring 2004)

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The double crisis of governability and governmentality (Soundings 52, Autumn 2012)

Potential political responses to living in a risky global environment.

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Five poems (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

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Women, modernisation and trade unions (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

Heather Wakefield argues that a fuller recognition of women’s centrality to the welfare state and in public sector unions could transform our ability to defend the public sector from the depredations of marketisation.

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What is British national identity and how do we get it? (Soundings 52, Autumn 2012)

Is it still possible to speak of a British identity?

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When is peace? Women’s post-accord experiences in three countries (Soundings 53, Spring 2013)

What has happened to women’s hopes for peace in Northern Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Israel-Palestine?

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Reviews (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

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Equality and New Labour (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

Judith Squires looks at the major changes underway in New Labour’s approach to equality policies.

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Look for the cracks: Don’t throw yourself against the wall (Soundings 50, Spring 2012)

Neal Lawson and Jon Wilson discuss politics, consumerism and the good society

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Poems (Soundings 7, Autumn 1997)

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Intellectuals and tendencies (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

The authors argue that ‘the Soundings tendency’ needs to spend more time on thinking about the role of intellectuals within the left.

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From ‘vulnerable’ to vanguard: challenging the Coalition (Soundings 50, Spring 2012)

One of the main challenges to the government will come from the disabled people’s and service user movements.

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Reviews (Soundings 7, Autumn 1997)

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The BBC: The next ten years (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

Caroline Thomson, a senior director at the BBC, talks to Alan Fountain about the institution’s future.

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Reviews (Soundings 50, Spring 2012)

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Poems (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

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Why young people can’t get the jobs they want and what can be done about it (Soundings 51, Summer 2012)

Joblessness among young people stems from problems in the economy rather than the education system.

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Reviews (Soundings 27, Summer 2004)

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The Tories’ Ten Commandments (Soundings 51, Summer 2012)

How the Tory Party keeps its grip on power

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Markets and the mixed economy (Soundings 28, Autumn 2004)

David Purdy argues that ‘capitalism’ is not the same as ‘markets’, and looks at relations between the market and the state, life outside the market, and the difference between a mixed economy and a balanced economy.

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Reviews (Soundings 51, Summer 2012)

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Masculinities on a new frontier? Bush, Blair and the war on terror (Soundings 28, Autumn 2004)

Richard Johnson argues that gendered forms of power are integral to the personas of Blair and Bush, and to their respective roles in the ‘war on terrorism’.

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The girlfriend gaze (Soundings 52, Autumn 2012)

Women’s friendship and intimacy circles are increasingly taking on the function of mutual self-policing.

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Is there a future for social democracy? (Soundings 28, Autumn 2004)

In the following two articles Michael Rustin contrasts New Labour’s unitary, managerial capitalist programme with the more pluralist, negotiated conflict characteristic of the social democratic era; and Jonathan Rutherford argues that we need a new idea of the individual in society.

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Reflections on the ‘living wage’ (Soundings 52, Autumn 2012)

The living wage has clarity as a campaign call - but complexity as a concept.

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In memory of Stuart Hall (Soundings 56, Spring 2014)

The news that our much loved co-editor Stuart Hall had died arrived as this issue was going to press. Words cannot express our sense of loss. There is no-one who can fill the gap Stuart has left - intellectually, politically or personally. What follows is a brief personal appreciation: in future issues of Soundings all of us will reflect further on the outstanding legacy Stuart has left behind.

Stuart was both an innovative and exciting thinker and a wonderful teacher. This is why so many of us regard him as our political lodestar. He was always a participant in debate; he was further away from an ivory tower than any other academic I have come across. For me he was the most important and formative thinker of my life.

Stuart opened up whole new worlds to so many of us through his pioneering insights about the centrality of culture to politics, a constant theme of his intellectual and political work. From the late 1970s onwards, cultural studies - under Stuart’s tutelage - became an intellectual smorgasbord, as the ideas streaming out of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies helped us to make sense of some of the knotty problems we were wrestling with. This was a time when many on the left were trying to find ways out of the straitjacket into which orthodoxy had confined marxism, and to find models of change beyond the revolutionary putsch. And Stuart’s ideas helped us think through these issues - to find a ‘marxism without guarantees’. Not least, his readings of Gramsci gave us novel and exciting ways of thinking about politics - which found their most notable first expression in his writings on Thatcherism.

Stuart saw Thatcherism as the response of a particular political formation to longer-term trends in the British economy and society. He coined the term Thatcherism in his 1979 article ‘The great moving right show’, in which he discussed how this emerging political formation was constructing and articulating 4 In memory of Stuart Hall together new political forms.1 He emphasised that this was a hegemonic project, which was responding to the changed political situation in an extremely radical way. He used the term authoritarian populism to describe Thatcherism, which he saw as an attempt to inaugurate a new moral order. The wide ranging nature of his analysis was something I had not seen before. And his ideas about hegemony also pointed to ideas about counter-hegemony, and thus different forms of left response.

These ideas about analysing whole formations, and their rootedness in both the specifics of the moment and longer-term trends, as well as the need to look at how they articulated together many other elements, were a completely new way of looking at politics for many of us. (Readers of Soundings will be aware of the way Stuart continued to develop such ideas to understand New Labour and then Cameronian Toryism - which he saw as distinct phases of the neoliberal conjuncture.) For Stuart politics always involved so much more than a narrow contest of economic interests. Although he drew inspiration for many of these ideas from Gramsci, Stuart developed them in creative ways, so that they became something new. What he shared with Gramsci, however, was an inexorable focus on the specifics of a political moment, and a drive to analyse that came from deep political commitment.

Stuart was a regular contributor to Marxism Today in the decade following the moving right show article, and as it progressed he kept on producing analyses of Thatcherism and its times that were unequalled anywhere else. I think this was partly because Stuart liked to be so deeply immersed in the culture he was writing about - as he once said, he liked to get up close and ‘smell’ Thatcherism. People sometimes mistook this for approval, but in reality it was a close critical appreciation - Stuart often used to laugh with genuine amusement as he analysed the sheer effrontery of the ploys of the powerful, but his opposition was always relentless.

And in the mean time cultural studies was transforming the ways we thought about so many aspects of politics - and especially about identity. Stuart’s work here was transformative - both for my generation and those that came after. For myself this involved thinking differently about feminism, and for many other friends it opened up new and liberating ways of thinking about race and representation. For all of us the 1980s was a decade of new and horizon-widening ideas, and Stuart was the central figure within that experience.

When Stuart became one of the three founding editors of Soundings (with Doreen 5 Soundings Massey and Michael Rustin) I was thrilled to be part of the team as publisher. And ever since then I have felt privileged to have had opportunities of being more closely involved with Stuart’s work.

As I am working on Soundings now I am dealing with articles and projects that Stuart was involved in from the beginning - especially the Manifesto, a project which was very important to him in recent years - and I feel bereft that he is no longer here to talk with us about what happens next. We of course have to carry on the conversations, but things will never be the same without his warm, witty and wise presence.

Notes

1. ‘The Great Moving Right Show’, Marxism Today, January 1979. Reprinted in Stuart Hall and Martin Jacques (eds), The Politics of Thatcherism, Lawrence & Wishart 1983, p23.

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Brazil: The Partido dos Trabalhadores in government (Soundings 28, Autumn 2004)

Csaba Deak assesses the record of President Lula and the Workers Party in Brazil.

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Continuity through change: North Korea’s second succession (Soundings 52, Autumn 2012)

New leadership in a number of key countries offers a window of opportunity for North Koreans.

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Three poems (Soundings 28, Autumn 2004)

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Reviews (Soundings 52, Autumn 2012)

Not Loving the Alien
Ash Amin, Land of Strangers, Polity Press, 2012
Reviewed by Roshi Naidoo

Toxic medicine
Eyal Weizman, The Least of All Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza, Verso 2011
Reviewed by Theo Reeves-Evison

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Reviews (Soundings 28, Autumn 2004)

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Leveson and the prospects for media reform (Soundings 53, Spring 2013)

Can the press barons be brought under control?

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New labour, new monetarism (Soundings 9, Summer 1998)

New Labour’s economic policies share much in common with old-fashioned monetarism, particularly in their narrow focus on interest rates as an instrument of policy.

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Last Orders for the English Aborigine (Soundings 29, Spring 2005)

What are the secrets of secret England?

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Revisiting the Olympic legacy (Soundings 53, Spring 2013)

A roundtable discussion convened and organised by James Graham, with Bob Gilbert, Anna Minton, Mark Perryman, Gavin Poynter and Claire Westall

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Future generations A right way forward? (Soundings 9, Summer 1998)

Do the unborn have rights? Mario Petrucci considers this neglected issue and suggests ways in which it should be taken more seriously in social and political thought.

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Freedom, psychology and the neoliberal worker (Soundings 29, Spring 2005)

Valerie Walkerdine looks at the ways in which our relationships to work have been psychologised.

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In France, will change be now or never? (Soundings 53, Spring 2013)

Can the Socialists achieve real change in France?

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Thinking with music (Soundings 9, Summer 1998)

To relate music to cultural theory is not enough. Angela McRobbie argues that adopting a more materialist analysis will allow us to sample the artistry and literary voice of current music makers.

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A defence of multiculturalism (Soundings 29, Spring 2005)

Tariq Modood argues that multiculturalism is not a politics of separatism; on the contrary, it is a politics of diversity and pluralism.

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A connected society (Soundings 53, Spring 2013)

Social connectedness has a key part to play in the search for equality

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New social movements in Hungary (Soundings 9, Summer 1998)

Mate Szabo assesses the development of Hungary through analysing the fortunes of social movements prior to, and immediately after, the democratic elections of 1990.

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The complexity revolution (Soundings 29, Spring 2005)

Wendy Wheeler argues that complexity theory is crucial to our understanding of contemporary politics and society.

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Optimism of the intellect? hegemony and hope (Soundings 54, Summer 2013)

Thinking with Gramsci can help us to find realistic grounds for hope.

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Reconciling Past and Present in Lithuania (Soundings 9, Summer 1998)

Recognised as one of the most brilliant scholars of the new generation of Lithuanians, Leonidas Donskis provides a perspective on the painful process which a new eastern European nation must undergo in order to adapt itself to an increasingly global setting. The situation demands that it create not only a transparent political system but also a radical civil society capable of social innovation. Donskis is better placed than most to interpret the historical and cultural obstacles to modernisation which are inherent in new eastern European societies.

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Politicians and Truth in a Shrinking World (Soundings 29, Spring 2005)

Sarah Benton on why truth is not a quality politicians can and should aspire to.

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The long revolution in the global age (Soundings 54, Summer 2013)

Raymond Williams and the long march to freedom

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Social Exclusion and Multiple Identities (Soundings 9, Summer 1998)

The commendable plans of the EU to achieve social inclusion through methods such as ‘welfare to work’ may, unintentionally, run into severe pitfalls. It is imperative that the political and cultural dimensions of these issues are brought to the fore. Peter Weinreich examines these dangers, and clarifies the possible ways of achieving the prerequisites of multiculturalism.

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Post-autistic economics (Soundings 29, Spring 2005)

Edward Fullbrook reports from the increasingly successful post-autistic economics movement.

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The problem that has no name – work, care and time (Soundings 54, Summer 2013)

How the distribution of time reflects and reinforces inequality

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Lettre de France (Soundings 9, Summer 1998)

Alain Caille, together with Jean-Pierre Le Coff, wrote a now-famous tract on the December 1995 uprising of trade unionists. It was called ‘Le Tournant de Decernbre’ and Caille’s part bore the title ‘Vers un nouveau contrat social?’ (‘Towards a new social contract?’) He takes a step further in this analysis of the situation almost nine months into the socialist regime headed by Lionel Jospin. Caille does not see any bold steps on the part of Jospin’s government to alleviate the precarious situation of large sections of French society. If a new social contract is to come into being, he argues, then the initiative for the whole process must of necessity come from below, where the energy for social justice resides. Caille’s analysis of France is evidently quite translatable to the general conditions of the EU area.

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Financial markets and globalisation (Soundings 29, Spring 2005)

John Grahl looks at the internationalisation of financial relations in the period since the second world war.

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Our dirty love affair with technology (Soundings 54, Summer 2013)

It is time to recognise that the digital economy is a large-scale contributor to ecological damage.

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Elusive Solidarity in the French Welfare State (Soundings 9, Summer 1998)

In current debates about the future of the welfare state the French case is of particular interest, since its welfare state originated with a different approach from the other prototypical welfare nations. John Crowley analyses the distinctiveness and contradictions of the French situation

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Living under New Labour: A local story (Soundings 29, Spring 2005)

Steve Munby argues that New Labour has created opportunities for local politics that should not be lightly dismissed.

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Fit to Work: Poets Against Atos (Soundings 54, Summer 2013)

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Swedish Multicultural Society (Soundings 9, Summer 1998)

Alexandra Alund here analyses the complex processes of transformation that have taken place in Sweden in the 1990s, which have caused uproar in a society once widely admired for its humane policies towards its overseas-born citizens.

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Wishful Re-thinking (Soundings 29, Spring 2005)

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The size of a song: Pussy Riot and the (people) power of poetry (Soundings 54, Summer 2013)

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A View from Sweden (Soundings 9, Summer 1998)

Martin Peterson reflects on the prospects for the left in Sweden and in other West European countries.

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Buy your own job, own your own life (Soundings 30, Summer 2005)

Molly Scott Cato argues that we need to take more control of our working lives.

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After the burn: TED in Long Beach (Soundings 55, Winter 2013)

How TED commodifies knowledge and closes down debate

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Tony Blair and the Jargon of Modernisation (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

Alan Finlayson scrutinises the contradictions and political implications inside the New Labour rhetoric of modernisation.

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The architecture of social democracy (Soundings 30, Summer 2005)

Ken Worpole looks at ways in which architecture and design could contribute to a humanisation of our cities.

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Social mobility: the politics, the reality, the alternative (Soundings 55, Winter 2013)

For the right social mobility offers an individual solution to the problem of inequality.

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Scenes (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

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Climate change: A case study from Kazakhstan (Soundings 30, Summer 2005)

Stephan Harrison argues that changes in glaciers, arising from climate change, pose increasingly serious environmental and political problems for those living in their vicinity.

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Austerity parenting (Soundings 55, Winter 2013)

Narratives of austerity are central to an agenda that seeks to link poverty to fecklessness.

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Imagination Without Power: Contemporary Social Movements in Italy (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

Mario Pianta analyses civil society movements in Italy in the period following the collapse of activism in traditional left-wing parties and organisations.

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Disabling politics? Beyond identity (Soundings 30, Summer 2005)

Tom Shakespeare argues that the disability movement needs a different approach to identity politics if it is to flourish.

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The piratical is political (Soundings 55, Winter 2013)

Why we should all pay attention to debates about piracy

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Political Opposition in the Ivory Coast: Problems and Perspectives (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

Richard Moncrieff analyses recent political events in the Ivory Coast.

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Racism, cosmopolitanism and contemporary politics of belonging (Soundings 30, Summer 2005)

Nira Yuval-Davis looks at some of the problems of a cosmopolitan politics.

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Gender and politics in the devolved assemblies (Soundings 55, Winter 2013)

Is a new, more woman-friendly, politics developing in the devolved institutions?

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Editorial: The morning after (Soundings 6, Summer 1997)

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Introduction: Windrush echoes (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

A discussion of the symbolism and legacy of the Empire Windrush by Windrush Echoes editors Gail Lewis and Lola Young.

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Zionism and the spirit of nations (Soundings 30, Summer 2005)

Jacqueline Rose traces genealogies of dissenting Zionist voices.

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Black internationalism, anti-fascism and the makings of solidarity (Soundings 55, Winter 2013)

Global capital has never gone unchallenged - as history shows.

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Multiculture’, ‘Multiracisms’ and Young People: Contradictory legacies of Windrush (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

Anne Phoenix looks at the complex approaches both black and white people adopt in making sense of their identities and identifications.

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Future wars (Soundings 31, Autumn 2005)

Lawrence Grossberg argues that we need a better understanding of how present actions can bring different futures.

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Three nature poems (Soundings 55, Winter 2013)

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Roundtable: European alternatives (Soundings 60, Summer 2015)

A roundtable discussion with Marina Prentoulis, Sirio Canos and Simon Dubbins, introduced by Doreen Massey

Doreen Massey: introduction

The first aim of this discussion is to think about what kind of a moment this is. When we began the Soundings manifesto, one of the things that provoked us into action was the recognition that, while there’d been a massive economic implosion with the financial crisis, there had been no political crisis, and the ideological hegemony of neoliberalism had been very quickly reinstated as the unquestionable common sense. There was no dislocation in the ideological and the political spheres, though there had been such a massive economic crisis. And that is why there is so much in the Manifesto about common sense and discourse, and the ways in which we think, and the need to change the terms of the debate. Our argument was that there will be no moment of more radical change - change that might affect the balance of social forces and make a difference to the relations of power - unless there is a crisis in the different instances of the social formation. An economic crisis is not enough. You also need a fracturing of the ideological and the political.

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Hidden Struggles: Black Women’s Activism and Black Masculinity in the Shadow of the Windrush (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

Julia Sudbury looks at the complexity and the differences between the lives of black women and those of black men.

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Roundtable: Townies, chavs and trendies (Soundings 31, Autumn 2005)

Lynda Dyson discusses race, class and identity with three North London teenage girls, all from inter- racial family backgrounds.

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Enfield: new directions with big business (Soundings 55, Winter 2013)

More tales from the frontline of regeneration

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Nigeria-London Connections: Photoessay (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

Lola Young reflects on pages from Femi Franklin’s family album.

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What is childcare for? (Soundings 31, Autumn 2005)

Lisa Harker argues for a childcare system geared more to the needs of children.

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Trouble in Austeria (Soundings 55, Winter 2013)

Can the EU still be rescued following its disastrous failure to tackle the economic crisis?

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The Racialisation of Space in British Cities (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

David Sibley looks at the ways, both real and imaginary in which the geographies of the city are racialised.

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New Labour, neo-liberalism and social democracy (Soundings 31, Autumn 2005)

Can a competitive economy coexist with a generous welfare state?

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The state of the left (Soundings 53, Spring 2013)

Labour’s priorities after Blair and Brown

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The Hanging Baskets of Wood Green: A Short Story (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

A short story

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The slow food story (Soundings 31, Autumn 2005)

Geoff Andrews discusses the rapidly expanding slow food movement.

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Reviews (Soundings 53, Spring 2013)

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The Limits of Inclusion: Western Political Theory and Immigration (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

Phil Cole argues that the question of who is admitted as a citizen cannot be separated from the question of internal citizenship.

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Consumers – agents of change? (Soundings 31, Autumn 2005)

Jo Littler discusses the cultural and political implications of the expansion of green, ethical and anti-consumerism with Clive Barnett and Kate Soper.

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Thatcher’s spiral and a citizen renaissance (Soundings 54, Summer 2013)

Neoliberalism advances through a self-reinforcing process which we ourselves, in echoing neoliberal values, inadvertently promote.

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A Game of Two Halves: ‘English’ identity fifty years after the Windrush (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

Bilkis Malek focuses on the insights football culture gives us into the ambivalences of the English psyche

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Reviews (Soundings 29, Spring 2005)

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Turnings taken and not taken on the road to Britain’s 1945 (Soundings 54, Summer 2013)

1945 was not so much a moment as a coming together of many strands of long-term labour movement activism and tradition.

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Negotiated Belongings: Interview with Simon Hamilton-Clarke (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

Interview with Simon Hamilton-Clarke

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Poems (Soundings 29, Spring 2005)

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Reviews (Soundings 54, Summer 2013)

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Hair: A photo essay (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

Photographs of ‘black hair’

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Looking at China (Soundings 30, Summer 2005)

John Gittings looks beyond the rival images of ‘economic miracle’ and ‘imminent collapse’, and considers the deeper changes underway in China.

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An economic policy for a post-neoliberal world (Soundings 55, Winter 2013)

Britain’s basic economic problem is its lack of competitive productive capacity, not its deficit.

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All in the Same Boat? (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

Roshi Naidoo looks at cultural texts of migration and argues that while a diversity of experience must be acknowledged the power of collective narratives should not be underestimated.

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Reviews (Soundings 30, Summer 2005)

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Reviews (Soundings 55, Winter 2013)

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Five poems (Soundings 30, Summer 2005)

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Five Poems (Soundings 31, Autumn 2005)

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Poems: Reel Iraq (Soundings 56, Spring 2014)

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Poems (Soundings 9, Summer 1998)

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Growing up in Britain can damage your health (Soundings 31, Autumn 2005)

Lynda Dyson and Sally Davison discuss some of the problems faced by Blair’s children.

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Roundtable: The Indignados and us (Soundings 57, Summer 2014)

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Reviews (Soundings 9, Summer 1998)

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Reviews (Soundings 31, Autumn 2005)

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Remaking Scotland (Soundings 57, Summer 2014)

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Poems (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

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The Roots of Terrorism (Soundings 32, Spring 2006)

Sayeed Khan argues that Western support for the mujahidin in Afghanistan was a key moment in the birth of modern political Islamic fundamentalism.

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Poems from Smokestack (Soundings 58, Winter 2014)

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Reviews (Soundings 10, Autumn 1998)

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A New Politics of Respect (Soundings 32, Spring 2006)

Ruth Lister argues that it is central to the agenda of anti-poverty politics to give recognition, respect and voice to those living in poverty.

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The new moralism: austerity, silencing and debt morality (Soundings 56, Spring 2014)

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The Individual is a Minority’: The Thin Line Between Universalism and Particularism (Soundings 11, Spring 1999)

Andreas Hess looks at current American debates on the r