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This article aims to explore the appeal of racist narratives and how they are used in populist politics to manipulate and exploit, leading to a rise in xenophobia and race hate crimes. Beneath the surface of the rhetoric is a predictable constellation of thoughts and feelings that create a racist imagination whose emotional atmosphere is melancholic and potentially murderous. The entangling of grief with racism is exploited through political messaging which aims to create false narratives of hope that attempt to bring to life a regressive fantasy of a return to an idealised past, into the material reality of the present by racialising others and treating them with impunity. I consider the extent to which we can learn about the challenges of engaging with these forces by turning to the experience of working clinically with these states of mind to translate a psychoanalytic sensibility to the political, one that is sensitive to the complexity and conflation of race, class and biography.

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Mental problems in young people are increasing and recovery proposals from classic biomedical models are not always effective. One of the responses to this has been the Mutual Help Groups, groups made up of people who meet periodically to help each other based on principles such as trust, transversality, the creation of support networks and new possibilities for psychosocial recovery. These possibilities arise from the same people, with the help of others, to have new ways of understanding reality and approaching it, which is called the agency of possibilities. This research aims to understand the contribution that Mutual Aid Groups make to young people’s mental health through group agency. For this, an analysis is carried out through the ‘Event’, an element of the pluralistic ontology of neo-monadism, which is defined as the unification of individualities based on incalculable networks that overlap with each other to generate new questions and new answers. Using thematic analysis as an analysis tool, in-depth interviews were conducted with six young people with mental problems belonging to a Mutual Help Group. There it was found that intentional states broadly explain world-to-mind, mind-to-world and mind-to-mind functional relationships and interactions, which contributes to ontological pluralism as a new paradigm for addressing social problems. Mental health care has long sought to control people. In this sense, negative adaptation guarantees recovery in vain. On the other hand, positive adaptation, from desires, from heterogeneous forces and beliefs, could be a more effective recovery path.

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The West Lothian shale bings are large deposits of spent-shale rock in Scotland, created by the first industrial scale oil refineries which operated in the region from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century. Through its visual format, this gallery essay eschews formal investigative strategies to break with previous scholarship and interpret the bings as structures with their own construction history. Images of their current shape have been substituted for plans, photos and representations of them in development, to highlight the various logics and designs that converged within their construction. First-hand accounts from archived interviews have also been used to integrate the sensory and personal information that animated the bings as they were built. Social production is centred in this way to undermine an ideological narrative that sees waste as either aberrant corollary to intensive industry, or a neutral object without history. Analysing each image of the bings reveals intent, calculation and purpose which are pointedly incongruous with the view of waste as monolithic, accidental or unconscious. Such interpretations must be challenged because they obfuscate the necessarily profound impact of capital upon environmental history, as well as denuding ecology of its social aspects.

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As I argued in the preceding chapter, it makes sense, in the context of an incorporated comparison concerned with processes of deindustrialization, to zoom in on Western Europe and examine different national cases that reflect the variegation of global capitalism. Britain bears hallmarks of a liberal market economy. Accordingly, the institutions characterizing the British political economy reflect the assumption that the market mechanism allocates resources efficiently: the regulation of the financial sector is comparably ‘light’ (see Gallas, 2010; Tooze, 2018); for-profit, private sector companies and public–private partnerships play an important role in delivering public services (Flinders, 2005; Gallas, 2016: 241–2); and economic inequality is higher than in the other Western European countries. Indeed, economic liberalism has deep roots in the country. Paired with colonialism and imperialism, it was a prominent feature of government policy in the age of the British empire in the 19th century. Back then, leading politicians had been promoting the erection of a ‘world market’ based on ‘free trade’ (Arrighi, 1994: 47–58; Gallas, 2008: 283; 2016: 76, 134–5). After the Second World War, economic and social policy shifted. Under the postwar settlement between capital and labour, full employment and benefits were traded for union acquiescence. A welfare state was erected, and successive governments started to experiment with Keynesianism and corporatism. But in reaction to a deep crisis of the British political economy and a wave of rank-and-file militancy on the side of organized labour, leading politicians re-embraced, from the mid-1970s onwards, ‘free market’ ideas.

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Karl Marx famously argued that the historical emergence of the working class as a collective actor resulted from acts of resistance against the continuous extension of the working day, which occurred in the context of the Industrial Revolution and was driven by capitalist competition. In an age where parts of the world experience sustained processes of deindustrialization, this raises the question of what happens to working classes when the factory gates are shut for good. It is possible to address this issue by resorting to strike research and focusing on the service and public sectors. Accordingly, the research question addressed in this book is this: What are the class effects of non-industrial strikes – or how far do they contribute to working-class formation? The author addresses it by taking three steps. First, he shows that the existing global labour studies literature insufficiently engages with class theory; second, he addresses this shortcoming by conceptualizing class and class formation from a critical-realist and materialist angle; and third, he conducts an incorporated comparison of non-industrial strike action around the globe in the age of the Great Crisis by (a) mapping 387 strikes in the service and public sectors from 56 countries and autonomous territories and (b) by zooming in on the railway strikes in Germany, the junior doctors’ strikes in Britain and the general strikes against austerity and the feminist general strikes in Spain.

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Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels famously ended the Manifesto of the Communist Party with a call to arms – ‘Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt euch!’ [Proletarians of all countries, unite!] (1959: 493; emphasis in the original). Ever since, the issue of transnational solidarity and labour internationalism has formed part of the debates on the strategies and aims of labour movements. And through the ages, these debates have been of concern to scholars, who have not just debated the prospects for solidarity that cuts across national boundaries, but also – and relatedly – the specificities of labour relations in different parts of the world, the issue of labour migration and the geographical scales of labour struggles (see van der Linden, 2008; Gallas, 2016a). In response to the emergence of global production networks from the 1970s onwards, ‘global labour studies’ has emerged as an academic project and a demarcated research field. Sociologists and other social scientists have committed to moving beyond the ‘methodological nationalism’ of industrial relations research and examining labour relations and movements from a global perspective (see Nowak, 2021a). This endeavour has become institutionalized in various ways – for example through the establishment of the Research Committee on Labour Struggles (RC44) of the International Sociological Association in 1990, the Global Labour University (GLU) in 2002 and the Global Labour Journal in 2010.

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Luxemburg shows how class struggles act as a catalyst of class formation. She highlights the importance of often localized and sectoral labour struggles and argues that they became interlinked in the revolutionary conjuncture of Russia in 1906. According to her, these struggles can be both spontaneous and the result of the strategic calculations and tactical considerations of mass organizations, and the latter can be revitalized through their involvement in struggles (Luxemburg, 2008: 128, 135). This suggests that there is a specific strategic role for mass organizations in facilitating advances of labour, which raises the question of how they advance or block processes of working-class formation. As I have argued in Chapter 5, there is a tendential separation of economic, political and cultural class struggles in capitalism, which has a stabilizing effect on capitalist class domination. Connected to this separation is the official recognition of class struggle, that is, its legalization and institutionalization. In a broad understanding, any activity with direct, unidirectional class effects can be seen as constituting an instance of class struggle. But if a capitalist state under the rule of law exists, ‘official’ procedures of the class struggle tend to emerge. These are legally enshrined mechanisms that institutionalize collective action. They invite negotiations between capitalists and workers over the distribution of material and ideational resources and the organization of society, whose outcomes are relevant for the class relations of forces. There are three sets of mechanisms that are particularly important in this context: the regulations surrounding labour disputes (economic dimension); political procedures that create binding decisions concerning the way society is run (political dimension); and the rules and conventions sustaining public fora in which battles over imaginaries and ideas take place (cultural dimension) (Table 5.6; see also Althusser, 1969: 96; Poulantzas, 1974: 15; Esser, 1982: 232–5). Historically, these mechanisms emerged as a result of class struggles that had not yet been channelled.

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The commitment to taking seriously a global angle is at odds with a lot of research in the fields of political economy and labour studies. Single country case studies and comparative studies of a small number of countries are common currency. Both have contributed significantly to our understanding of different capitalist social formations and the fact that institutions and configurations of actors at the national level matter and differ. Through establishing differences and communalities across national states, they enhance our understanding of what the capitalist mode of production is, and what specificities of macroregional or national contexts are. Many of those studies exhibit a research strategy that can be called ‘methodological Fordism’. With this term, I refer to a set of methodological choices starting from the implicit assumption that Fordism is the standard mode of capitalist development. This does not mean that all research in this mould studies ‘Fordist’ or ‘post-Fordist’ configurations or uses the corresponding terminology. My point is that it has a family resemblance with scholarship that explicitly does so and shares with it a number of guiding assumptions: the primary unit of analysis is the national state; the study of manufacturing and of the labour relations in the sector – frequently referred to as ‘industrial relations’ (see Nowak, 2021) – are key to understanding national political economies; and contemporary capitalism can be deciphered by focusing on a relatively small number of highly industrialized core countries.

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This article examines the dialogic relationship between emotional reflexivity and emotional regime as it explores ‘the hukou puzzle’ in China. In theory, migrants in small- to medium-scale cities can transfer their hukou (household registration) to urban areas, yet are unwilling to do so in practice. Relying on six months’ ethnographic fieldwork and 60 in-depth interviews with ethnic migrant performers, this article argues that previous theorisation of the hukou puzzle neglects emotions and assumes migrants are making rational choices to maximise their profits. In reality, different emotions and feelings inform migrants’ reflexivity regarding an opaque migration regime, which highlights the crucial role of how they exercise their reflexivity in emotional and relational ways. Moreover, a neoliberal emotional regime at the Chinese societal level – which emphasises positive energy, happiness and ‘the China Dream’  – also significantly shapes migrants’ emotional reflexivity. This article points to the need to further explore the intersection between emotional reflexivity and emotional regime in relation to migration.

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