Identity Politics, Poverty, and Class: Social Change from Where We Stand (dissertation project)
Dissertation in Sociology
First supervisor: Prof. Markus Kienscherf
Second supervisor: N/A
Third supervisor: N/A
My doctoral project will investigate the possibility that identity politics and issues of class and poverty might be able to interact in a way that is beneficiary for both sides of the debate in a US context. A simplified overview of the current debate is that issues of class and poverty are considered the distributional consequences of race and gender in works of identity politics. Meanwhile, class scholars consider that the focus on identity is incompatible with fighting economic inequality. My purpose is to open a dialogue between the two seemingly disparate traditions of critical theory, a dialogue rejecting the premise that one must supplant the other.
The theoretical stake of my dissertation will be to map the discursive fields of class, identity and poverty in in contemporary US academia, informed however by an attention to its historical development and intrinsic activist demands. I will pay particular attention to points of contention and intersection between class and other identities in these discourses, assessing whether their assumed incompatibility cannot be overcome by a productive, be it only strategic, collaboration. This will be completed by an empirical focus on several recent American social movements focusing on poverty or inequality. I will engage in discourse analysis of the movements’ print and online publications and I will analyze their media presence in order to assess whether the conceptual apparatus of identity politics can adequately be employed to understand the demands for agency and social change that they put forward.