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Class analysis, culture and inequality in the information society

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This paper argues that class analysis contains important tools for understanding contemporary socio-economic inequality in the new media environment. For research seeking to promote the reduction of inequality, the Marxian class analytical tradition has two important features: (1) it identifies collectively-held interests in contrast to the methodological individualism of neo-classical economics, thus providing a basis for political action; and (2) it understands those interests as relational and socially constituted, and therefore processual and able to be changed. Class analysis has declined in effectiveness due to its failure to respond to critiques emanating from identity-based new social movements (e.g. feminism, anti-racism, etc.). These critiques have required universalist social theory such as classical Marxism to reflexively understand its cultural and historical specificity. I argue that such an understanding is becoming possible through analysis of the role of information in the economy. The evidence suggests that the economy is fundamentally a cultural/informational entity, rather than a base for a cultural/ideological superstructure. The paper sketches a revised class theory from a cultural perspective to yield a class analytical framework that will be useful for those excluded from the dominant networks of economic and cultural exchange.

Keywords: Marx; class; culture; inequality; information society; social theory

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Creative Industries Research Centre at Wintec, New Zealand.

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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