Issue no.98
Summer '09


The Alienated Heart: Hochschild’s ‘emotional labour’ thesis and the anticapitalist politics of alienation
Paul Brook
Arlie Russell Hochschild’s influential emotional labour thesis in The
Managed Heart (1983) exposes and opposes the harm wrought by the commodification
of human feelings as customer service, and complements contemporary
anticapitalist writing with an enduring influence and political
relevance that is underpinned by Hochschild's application of Marx’s alienation
theory. Critics have sought to blunt the politics of her thesis by rejecting
as absolutist her condemnation of workers’ alienation. But her application
of alienation theory is not thorough, since her explicit usage of it is limited
to only two of Marx’s four dimensions, and thus it stops short of theorising
alienation as generic to society. This undermines Hochschild’s argument
on emotional labourers’ resistance, since she inadequately captures the
way workers are shaped by alienation but not blinded to the reality of capitalism.
The continuing political potency of her thesis requires that it should
be defended and strengthened.


Working in the tracks of state socialism
Michael Burawoy
Michael Burawoy revisits the forgotten world of state socialism by reflecting
on his experiences as an industrial worker in Hungary (1983–1988) in the
twilight of the Soviet Union (1991), and in its market aftermath (1992–2002).
From the standpoint of the shopfloor, he examines the peculiarities of socialist
production and how it shaped working-class consciousness, leaving workers
unprepared for the catastrophe that befell them during the capitalist transition.
More broadly, he grapples with the limitations of his extended case
method and with the challenges state socialism posed for Marxism.


Why do institutions matter? Global competitiveness and the politics of policies in Latin America
Greig Charnock
This paper subjects to critique the ‘new institutionalism’ in development policy
literature. It highlights the way ‘second generation’ institutional reform
processes in the Latin American region are to be engineered through a politics
of global competitiveness while their success is to be gauged, first and
foremost, in capital-functional terms. The paper culminates in the focused
critique of an Inter-American Bank flagship report, The Politics of
Policies, which demonstrates the new institutionalism’s prejudice against
any form of political leadership that does not seek to guarantee a competitive
investment climate as well as an uncompromising commitment to a politics of
global competitiveness.


Trade unions, civil society organisations and health reforms
Jane Lethbridge
This article provides an analysis of resistance to neoliberalism and commodification
in the public healthcare sector as seen from a trade union perspective.
It uses recent research on social-movement unionism and new labour
internationalism to structure a series of case studies examining resistance to
different dimensions of healthcare commodification in four countries. The
range of alliances trade unions are making do not fit tidily into one model,
but give insights into the movement elements of trade unionism. This
dimension must be strengthened, but can also be in tension with collective
bargaining and other institutional processes. How to constantly reconcile
these different positions is the future challenge facing trade unions.


Book reviews
Adam Morton (Ed)

Capital & Class (ISSN 0309 8168)


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