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The Production of Commons and the “Explosion” of the Middle Class

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This paper builds on the author's previous theoretical work on the role of processes such as enclosures, market discipline and governance. It discusses the middle class in terms of a stratified field of subjectivity within the planetary wage hierarchy produced by these processes. It discusses the thesis that the middle class, qua middle class, will never be able to contribute to bring about a fundamental change in the capitalist system of livelihood reproduction. The production in common centered on middle class values—however historically and culturally specific they are—is always production in common within the system. Our common action as middle class action, whether as consumers, workers, or citizens, reproduces the system of value and value hierarchy that is the benchmark, the referent point for our cooperation. The paper then discusses some of the implications of the conundrum faced by those who seek alternatives: there will be no “beginning of history” without the middle class, nor there will be one with the middle class.

Keywords: capitalism; commons; middle class; social conflict; social reproduction; values

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of East London, London, UK;, Email:

Publication date: September 1, 2010


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