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Gareth Brown, Emma Dowling, David Harvie, and Keir Milburn

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Careless Talk: Social Reproduction and Fault Lines of the Crisis in the United Kingdom

Since autumn 2010, the United Kingdom has witnessed various apparently disparate protests and movements against austerity. These include: a students’ movement, UK Uncut, a series of public-sector worker demonstrations and strikes, Occupy, and–arguably, for many commentators have insisted they were apolitical–four days of rioting across English cities in August 2011. The authors suggest that these protests, movements, and events (including the riots) can be understood together as responses to a crisis of care–one that is intimately connected to the wider economic crisis. Rejecting as insufficient explanations for these current crises that rely on personal “morality” (e.g., “greedy bankers,” “feral youth”), the authors propose that the concept of social reproduction provides a better lens through which to understand their unfolding. This lens allows them to posit an historical relationship between “regimes of accumulation” and what they call “regimes of care.” Understanding the crisis of care as a crisis of social reproduction–which is analytically separate from the crisis of capital accumulation–also allows the authors to highlight the politics, that is, the antagonistic class interests that lie at the heart of both crises.

social reproduction, social movements, social conflict, protest, Occupy, financial crisis, austerity

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 39, No. 1 (2012): 78-98

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