Podcast: Professor Beverley Skeggs talks about Exploitation, Domination, Dispossession and Devaluation
Professor Beverley Skeggs talks about Exploitation, Domination, Dispossession and Devaluation. She worked at the Worcester College of Higher Education and the Universities of Keele, York, Lancaster and Manchester before joining the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths. She has also worked in the areas of Women’s Studies and Cultural Studies as well as Sociology.
Her research interests look at the issue of value and values. How do we know what value and values are? What do they do? The study of value/s has led her through issues of respectability in class and gender formation, an exploration of symbolic value through media and cultural formations. She uses feminist and post structuralist theory, Pierre Bourdieu and the economic abstractions of Marx, to help unpick these issues.
In July 2011 she became the joint managing editor of the journal The Sociological Review, a major journal which has just celebrated 100 years of shaping the field. The podcast is taken from the Annual Lecture of the Sociological Review in 2015 where Dr Imogen Tyler gave the Keynote address.
Beverley talks about the disappearance of the use of ‘class’ as a term from academia and the broader social context. She explains how, for her, in 1979, the ‘working class struggle’ was lost if you were ‘working class’. This was a conscious move of the Thatcher government, to remove it from popular language, thus removing any identity or explanatory power attached to that identity.
In the Ridley Report was a report of Nationalised Industries Policy Group leaked in the late 1970s (http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/110795). She cites this as a pivotal moment and document which laid out the strategy of privatizing the national assets of the UK, describing this as the start of a war on the working class.
Since then there has been a depression in wages, the top rates of income tax have halved (it was 83% income tax in 1979), and the super-rich have increased their value by £69 billion alone last year. Real incomes for the poorest have fallen 40%, the cost of living has risen by 25%…there are more servants working now in London than there were 200 years ago…most people now exist with huge debts.
She covers such a wealth of information in this short talk and allows the listener to find a way into an obscured and overshadowed part of the sociology of the UK which is becoming more and more relevant. Below you can see the slides which accompany the talk.