On the proletarian public sphere and its contemporaneity: crises, class and the media


  • Yiannis Mylonas National Research University Higher school of Economics




publicity, working-class experience, social change, politics, Green economic crisis, capitalist hegemony


This article attempts a critical enquiry into contem­porary politics and culture as characterized by a prolonged capitalist crisis and its concomitant economic, social, political, and environmental dimensions. The article highlights the position of the working class today, and its critical potential for a politics of social change, and socialism. Class is understood in intersectional terms, taking into consideration the associations of ethnicity, race and gender in the formation of classed subjects in a globalized world. The experience of the lower classes in structural as well as political terms, is largely negated from publicity, or assimilated and distorted by the media and cultural industries. This has dire consequences for understanding the crisis, its causes, effects, and possible solutions, interpellating the working class and the poor to bourgeois norms and sensibilities. The negation of proletarian voices and the mediation of the proletarian experience by hegemonic bourgeois ideas is theoretically discussed, drawing on the proletarian public sphere notion, and also by looking at empirical contexts of media practices (notably the mainstream news coverage of the Greek/European economic crisis of the 2010’s, and the European “refugee crisis” from 2015 onwards). By not addressing the systemic foundations of crises (e.g., economic, humanitarian) in their complexity, the insecurities triggered by neoliberalism are articulated by liberal pundits and mainstream media through discourses blaming targeted groups (e.g., migrants and workers of the European periphery). Hence, the development of effective antagonistic politics, relies on the creation of both organizational forms and communication structures, to produce shared meanings and identities, as well as political goals and strategies; class perspectives are crucial to overcome the prolonged, current political impasse that capitalist society reproduces, and the possibility to overcome the crises that capitalism produces.


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