The Ideology of Work and the Pandemic in Britain

Mercer, Samuel J.R. (2020) The Ideology of Work and the Pandemic in Britain. In: Pandemic and the Crisis of Capitalism: A Rethinking Marxism Dossier. ReMarx Books, Brighton MA, USA, pp. 137-145. ISBN 978-1-7355565-0-5

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The celebration of “key workers” in Britain during the pandemic forms the basis of what Althusser described as an “ideology of work,” a largely humanistic ideological machinery deployed in the service of maintaining and reproducing capitalist relations of production in the face of the present crisis. As opposed to a benign expression of national unity in response to a threat, this essay argues that the ideological celebration of key workers in Britain has been crucial to the protection of key accumulation strategies threatened by the crisis and to the neutralization of any potential resistance by those workers endangered by these strategies. This ideology of work has underpinned the implementation of numerous social policies in the service of protecting these relations of production: a fact which this essay argues must be adequately confronted prior to the imagination of alternative social policies and social futures after the pandemic.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information and Comments: Copyright guidelines given to the author by the editors: "On acceptance, RM [Rethinking Marxism] will seek First World Serial Rights (please do not publish your manuscript elsewhere before it appears in this dossier) with the right to secondary publication in other formats reverting to the author immediately upon publication on RM’s website."
Keywords: Louis Althusser; Marxism; Ideology; Social Policy; Work; Pandemic
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > School of Social Science
Depositing User: Sam Mercer
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2020 13:10
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2020 13:10

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