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Representing Labour: Notes towards a Political and Cultural Economyof Irish Working- Class Experience

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Christopher Loughlin


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Class is about the representation, linguistically, of a socio- economic phenomenon. In the Anglophone world the exact relationship between these terms vexed analysis of class in the last third of the twentieth century. Class, as the prefatory quotes which opened this chapter make clear, is also, however, about the politics of representation. This capacity of linguistic representation is, therefore, about cultural and political economy, and, according to Scott, the ‘power to define reality itself ’. In the following chapter I explicate some elements of the historical process by which knowledge was produced about class in Ireland. I contend that labour, the political and cultural expression(s) of the ‘subaltern classes’, has been represented in both urban and rural forms during the past 400 years. The first section charts some aspects of the emergence of the representation of labour in Ireland, 1603–1824, which is, in a broad sense, the age of manufacture,as Marx described it, or ‘proto-industrialisation’. The second section presents some evidence for the self- representation of labour in Ireland, 1824– 1998, the age of machinery. The final section of the chapter turns to the methodology underpinning the previous sections.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Loughlin CJV

Editor(s): Michael Pierse

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: A History of Irish Working-Class Writing

Year: 2017

Pages: 57-71

Print publication date: 01/11/2017

Online publication date: 01/11/2017

Acceptance date: 01/08/2016

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Place Published: Cambridge, UK


DOI: 10.1017/9781316570425.004

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781107149687


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