Identity in Political Discourse: The Return of Class

    • Cover Photo
    • Presentation speakers
      • Mark Neufeld, Global Politics,Trent University, Canada


    The notion of “class” was largely marginalized – when present at all – from public political discourse over the past decades. From Margaret Thatcher’s assertion that “… there is no such thing as society… [only] ….individual men and women and ….. families”, to the emphasis upon non-class identity categories such as race, sexual orientation, and gender, class had largely fallen into disuse. With its resurgence in contemporary popular political discourse – in particular, with the new-found focus on the well-being and prospects of “middle-class” voters – a number of questions present themselves. First, as class is a relational category, what are the counter-parts to the “middle class” (working class, bourgeoisie, other) and what is the relationship between them? Secondly, how do class categories in contemporary political discourse fit with those which, for so long, were seen to supplant class identities (individuals/ families, race, etc.)? And finally, how is the category of class being used to explain/ critique/ legitimate the new populism manifest in (but not limited to) events such as the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency? These questions – and the competing answers to then – will form the focus of this paper.