Racialized capitalism: an account of its contested origins and consolidation

Virdee, S. (2019) Racialized capitalism: an account of its contested origins and consolidation. Sociological Review, 67(1), pp. 3-27. (doi:10.1177/0038026118820293)

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Abstract

Undergirded by the perspective of historical materialism stretched in dialogue with black Marxism and Marxist feminism, this article constructs an account demonstrating the significance of racism to the making of modernity. The analytic returns of unthinking Eurocentric sociologies in favour of a more unified historical social scientific approach include the unmasking of the intimate relationship between capitalism, class struggles and racism, particularly how capitalist rule advanced through a process of differentiation and hierarchical re-ordering of the global proletariat. From the 17th century colonisation of Virginia to Victorian Britain and beyond, racism formed an indispensable weapon in the armoury of the state elites, used to contain the class struggles waged by subaltern populations with a view to making the system safe for capital accumulation. Additionally, situating an account of racism within the unfolding story of historical capitalism as against the postcolonial tendency to locate it within the civilizational encounter between the West and the Rest helps make transparent the plurality of racisms, including the racialization of parts of the European proletariat. This explanation of the structuring force of racism and the differentiated ways in which the proletariat has been incorporated into capitalist relations of domination has important implications for emancipatory politics. A race-blind politics risks leaving untouched the injustices produced by historic and contemporaneous racisms. Instead, an alternative approach is proposed, one that invites movements to wilfully entangle demands for economic justice with anti-racism and thereby embrace and demystify the differences inscribed into the collective body of the proletariat by capitalism.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Virdee, Professor Satnam
Authors: Virdee, S.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Sociological Review
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN:0038-0261
ISSN (Online):1467-954X
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Authors
First Published:First published in Sociological Review 61(1):3-27
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
592092Understanding the changes in ethnic relations: understanding the dynamics of ethnicity, identity and inequality in the uk.Satnam VirdeeEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/K002198/1SPS - SOCIOLOGY