A Decent House, a Decent Job, a Decent Life: Social Reproduction Theory and Working Class Organizing in Cape Town.
While progressive coalitions continue to oppose neoliberal restructuring, organizing on the left remains fragmented and the underlying unity of the multitude of working class struggles undertheorized. Overcoming these theoretical and practical obstacles is an urgent task in the face of both renewed attempts by the state and capital to ensure stability and deepen market penetration into the remaining untouched corners of working-class life, and threats to unity generated within the left by narrow understandings of class and identity. Drawing on empirical research around struggles for housing and public services in Cape Town, South Africa, this paper argues that Social Reproduction Theory (SRT) may provide just such an integrated theorization of the diverse experiences and struggles of the working class. SRT recovers class by building from everyday experience to generate unifying understandings of class struggle within a capitalist totality in which difference within the class is constitutive.
Alexander, Peter, Trevor Ngwane, and Carin Runciman. 2016. “South Africa's rebellion of the poor.” In III International Conference Strikes and Social Conflicts: combined historical approaches to conflict. Proceedings, edited by Martí Marín Corbera, Xavier Domènech Sampere and Ricard Martínez i Muntada, 148-161. Barcelona: CEFID-UAB.
Alexander, Peter and Peter Pfaffe. 2013. “Social Relationships to the Means and Ends of Protest in South Africa’s Ongoing Rebellion of the Poor: The Balfour Insurrections.” Social Movement Studies: 1-18.
Allman, Paula. 2007. On Marx: An Introduction to the Revolutionary Intellect of Karl Marx. Rotterdam: Sense.
Anderson, Kevin B. 2010. Marx at the Margins. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Bezanson, Kate and Meg Luxton. 2006. Social Reproduction: Feminist Political Economy Challenges Neoliberalism. Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Bhattacharya, Tithi. 2017. “How not to skip class : Social Reproduction of Labour and the Global Working Class.” In Social Reproduction Theory: Remapping Class, Recentering Oppression, edited by Tithi Bhattacharya, 68-93, London: Pluto.
Bhattacharya, Tithi. 2016. “The Ontology of Labour Power: Producing and Social Reproducing Capital.” Presentation at Historical Materialism London, November 10th.
Ceruti, Claire. 2011. “The hidden element in the 2010 public-sector strike in South Africa.” Review of African Political Economy 38 (127): 151-157.
Choudry, Aziz. 2015. Learning Activism. The Intellectual Life of Contemporary Social Movements. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
City of Cape Town (CoCT). 2018. Water Outlook Report. Cape Town: CoCT.
Coburn, Elaine. 2012. “Thinking About Class, Race, Gender: Himani Bannerji and GA Cohen on Capitalism and Socialism.” Socialist Studies 8 (1): 1-19.
Davis, Angela. 1983. Women, Race and Class. New York: Vintage Books.
Ferguson, Susan. 2016. “Intersectionality and Social-Reproduction Feminisms.” Historical Materialism 24 (2): 38-60.
Ferguson, Susan. 2008. “Canadian Contributions to Social Reproduction Feminism, Race and Embodied Labour.” Race, Gender & Class 15 (1-2): 42-57.
Hart, Gillian. 2014. Rethinking the South African Crisis: Nationalism, Populism, Hegemony. Pietermaritzburg South Africa: UKZN Press.
Holst, John. 2011. “Frameworks for understanding the politics of social movements.” Studies in the Education of Adults 432: 117-127.
Housing Assembly. 2014. What the Housing Assembly Stands For. Cape Town: HA.
Lebowitz, Michael A. 2003. Beyond Capital: Marx’s Political Economy of the Working Class, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillian.
Levenson, Zachary. 2017. “Precarious welfare states: Urban struggles over housing delivery in post- apartheid South Africa.” International Sociology 32 (4): 474–492.
Luxton, Meg. 2006. “Feminist Political Economy in Canada and the Politics of Social Reproduction.” In Social Reproduction: Feminist Political Economy Challenges Neoliberalism, edited by Kate Bezanson and Meg Luxton, Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
McDonald, David. A. 2008. World City Syndrome. New York: Routledge
McDonald, David A. and John Pape. 2002. Cost Recovery and the crisis of service delivery in South Africa. Pretoria: HSRC Press.
McKinley, Dale T. 2016. “Ships Passing in the Dark? Reigniting Labour-Community Alliances for Public Services in South Africa.” In Making Public in a Privatized World: The Struggle for Essential Services edited by David A. McDonald, 59-80, London: Zed Books.
McNally, David. 2015. “The dialectics of unity and difference in the constitution of wage- labour: On internal relations and working-class formation.” Capital and Class 391: 131-146.
McNally, David. 2011. Global Slump: the Economic and Politics of Crisis and Resistance. Oakland: PM Press.
McNally, David and Susan Ferguson. 2015. “Social Reproduction Beyond Intersectionality.” Viewpoint Magazine, 5.
Ngwane, Trevor. 2017. “The ‘Spirit of Marikana’ and the Resurgence of Working-Class Movement in South Africa.” In Urban Revolt: State Power and the Rise of People’s Movements in the Global South, edited by Trevor Ngwane, Immanuel Ness and Luke Sinwell, n.p., Chicago: Haymarket.
National Union of Metalworkers of South African (NUMSA) 2013. NUMSA Special National Congress, December 17-20: Declaration.
Oldfield, Sophie and Saskia Greyling. 2015. “Waiting for the state: a politics of housing in South Africa.” Environment and Planning A 47: 1100-1112.
Paret, Marcel. 2017. “Working-class fragmentation, party politics, and the complexities of solidarity in South Africa’s United Front.” The Sociological Review 652: 267-284.
Patel, Kamna. 2015. “Sowing the seeds of conflict? Low income housing delivery, community participation and inclusive citizenship in South Africa.” Urban Studies: 1-20.
Pillay, Devan. 2017. “Trade union revitalisation in South Africa: Green shoots or false dawns?” Global Labour University Working Paper 5 Berlin: GLU.
Ruiters, Greg. 2016. “The Moving Line Between State Benevolence and Control: Municipal Indigent Programmes in South Africa.” Journal of Asian and African Studies: 1-18.
Ruiters, Greg. 2014. “Spaces of hope: rethinking trade union–community alliances and citizenship in a post-alliance era in South Africa.” Politikon 41 (3): 421-441.
Sayre, Nathan F. 2008. “Assessing the Effects of the Grundrisse in Anglophone Geography and Anthropology.” Antipode 40 (5): 898-920.
Schein, Rebecca. 2014. “Hegemony Not Co-Optation: For a Usable History of Feminism.” Studies In Political Economy 94 (Autumn): 169-176.
Spronk, Susan. and Phillip Terhorst. 2012. “Social Movement Struggles for Public Services. In Alternatives to privatization: Public options for essential services in the global South, edited by David McDonald and Greg Ruiters, 133-156, New York: Routledge.
Thompson, Edward. P. 1978. “Eighteenth-Century English Society: Class Struggle Without Class?” Social History 32: 133-165.
Webb, Chris. 2017. “Between Precarity and Paternalism: Farm Workers and Trade Unions in South Africa's Western Cape Province.” Global Labour Journal 8 (1): 49-64.
Wood, Ellen. 2009. “Capitalism and Social Rights.” Solidarity 140.
Copyright: Authors who publish in the Journal agree to the following terms: 1)Authors retain copyright and grant the Journal the right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in the Journal; and, 2)Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the Journal's published version of the work (eg post to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in the Journal.