Cannadine On Class

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2020092120200923 (R4)Professor David Cannadine argues that class and the notion of history as a continuous 'class struggle' have been overplayed by historians and politicians. He dismantles the Marxist view that events from the Civil War to the 2019 election are part of a narrative in which class consciousness is the driving force.

He makes clear that other aspects of people's identity - their religious beliefs, their sense of nationality, their gender and race - cut across a loyalty to class. He also looks at some events in the 19th century - Peterloo and the Chartists - and finds these were generally reformist movements aimed at better and more representative government, rather than pre-revolutionary uprisings to overthrow the bourgeoisie.

Politicians have , nevertheless , found it useful to address the electorate in class terms - from the appeal to the 'fustian coated' workers in the 19th century to the 'just about managing' of the 21st. But authors of the Great British Class Survey point out that today's population, though conscious of inequalities in society, have little appetite for describing themselves in class terms.

David is joined by scholars and commenators including Diane Purkiss, Simon Heffer, Miles Taylor, Helen McCarthy and Mike Savage.

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Professor David Cannadine argues historians and politicians have overplayed the class card

Professor David Cannadine argues historians and politicians have overplayed the class card