Marx, labour and emancipation in South African sociology: A preliminary rethinking

Dubbeld B. (2009)


In a university and disciplinary environment where knowledge is increasingly commodified, this paper sketches a reconstruction of the mature Marx's analysis of capitalism. I argue that his understanding remains methodologically powerful and helps to ground sociological analyses of the present. While accepting that there are good grounds for questioning the relevance of Marx in the wake of the South African political transition and the Post-Fordist transformation of labour, this interpretation departs significantly from how Marx has generally been interpreted by sociologists and other social scientists in the country by foregrounding the commodity as the starting point of his social critique. Indeed, I argue that 'class' and 'workplaces', long a focus of radical sociologists, are on their own inadequate to grasp Marx's concept of capitalism. Finally, drawing on the Frankfurt School, I suggest the importance of a critique of labour and the recognition of contradiction as the starting point of an emancipatory project. © 2009 Taylor & Francis.

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