The production and reproduction of inequality in the UK in times of austerity
- 454 Downloads
Inequality appears to be back on the intellectual and political agenda. This paper provides a commentary on this renewed interest, drawing on an empirical discussion of inequality in the UK. The paper argues that inequality should be seen as produced in the inherently unequal social relations of production, drawing attention to the role of social struggle in shaping dynamics of inequality. However, inequality is not just produced in dynamic class struggle in the formal economy, but also through the social reproduction of labour power on a day-to-day and inter-generational basis. As such, inequalities of household resources at any point in time may be reproductive of greater future inequality. It is argued that inequality has risen in the UK over recent decades because of changes in the social relations of production in the formal economy and social reproduction in the domestic sector, both of which have witnessed significant state interventions that have increased structural inequalities. It is argued that, absent of significant change, the underpinning structural dynamics in the UK will lead to further increases in inequality over the short and longer-term. Given this, we might expect to see an already emergent ‘New Politics of Inequality’ intensifying in the coming decades.
Keywordsinequality feminism Marxism production reproduction stratification inter-generational mobility
The paper benefitted enormously from discussion at two workshop discussions in the ESRC Seminar series: ‘From Recovery to Discovery: Opening the Debate on Alternatives to Financialisation’ and in particular discussion and comments with/from Daniela Tepe-Belfrage; Emma Dowling; Sara Wallin; Ruth Cain; Johnna Montgomerie; Angus Cameron; Ruth Pearson and Shirin Rai. The paper also benefited from the very helpful comments and input of three anonymous reviewers. Thanks and gratitude to all, but errors and omissions are the author’s alone.
- Bakker, I. and Gill, S. (2008) New constitutionalism and social reproduction. In: Beyond States and Markets: The Challenges of Social Reproduction. London & New York: Routledge, pp. 19–33.Google Scholar
- Bassanini, A. and Manfredi, T. (2012) Capital’s Grabbing Hand? A Cross-Country/Cross-Industry Analysis of the Decline of the Labour Share. OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
- Belfield, C., Cribb, J., Hood, A. and Joyce, R. (2015) Living Standards, Poverty and Inequality in the UK: 2015. London: IFS.Google Scholar
- Belfield, C., Cribb, J., Hood, A. and Joyce, R. (2014) Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK: 2014, IFS Reports (R96) London: IFS.Google Scholar
- Blanden, J. (2015) Intergenerational income persistence. In: IZA World of Labor.Google Scholar
- Blanden, J. and Gregg, P. (2007) Explaining Inter-generational Income Persistence: Non-cognitive Skills, Ability and Education. Centre for Market and Public Organisation Working Paper 06(146).Google Scholar
- Bonefeld, W. (2001) The permanence of primitive accumulation: commodity fetishism and social constitution. The Commoner 2 (September).Google Scholar
- Boyer, R. (2015) A World of Contrasted but Interdependent Inequality Regimes: China, United States and the European Union. Review of Political Economy 1–37.Google Scholar
- Bovill, D. (2014) Patterns of Pay: Estimates from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, UK, 1997 to 2013. Swansea: ONS.Google Scholar
- Cain, R. (2016) Responsibilising recovery: Lone and low-paid parents, Universal Credit and the gendered contradictions of UK welfare reform. British Politics. doi: 10.1057/s41293-016-0034-4.
- Cammack, P. (2006) The Politics of Global Competitiveness. Papers in the Politics of Global Competitiveness (Vol. 1). Retrieved from http://www.politicsofglobalcompetitiveness.net/.
- Cammack, P. (2009) Poverty reduction and universal competitiveness. Labour, Capital and Society 42: 1–2.Google Scholar
- Chan, T.W. and Boliver, V. (2013b) The grandparents effect in social mobility: Evidence from British birth cohort studies. American Sociological Review.Google Scholar
- Clarke, S. (1983) State, class struggle, and the reproduction of capital. Kapitalistate 10-11: 113–134.Google Scholar
- Corak, M. (2006) Do Poor Children Become Poor Adults? Lessons from a Cross Country Comparison of Generational Earnings Mobility. IZA Discussion Paper, 1993.Google Scholar
- Crawford, R., Innes, D., & O’Dea, C. (2015) The Evolution of Wealth in Great Britain: 2006-08 to 2010-12. London: IFS. Retrieved from http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/8050.
- Department for Communities and Local Government (2015) English Housing Survey 2013 to 2014: Headline report. London: DCLG.Google Scholar
- Duncan-Smith, I (2006) Breakdown Britain. Social Justice Policy Group, London: The Centre for Social Justice.Google Scholar
- Elming, W., Emmerson, C., Johnson, P. and Phillips, D. (2015) An assessment of the potential compensation provided by the new “National Living Wage” for the personal tax and benefit measures announced for implementation in the current parliament. London: IFS.Google Scholar
- Fraser, N. (2014) Behind Marx’s Hidden Abode. New Left Review (86): 55–72.Google Scholar
- Greenstein, A., Burman, E., Kalambouka, A. and Sapin, K. (2016) Construction and deconstruction of ‘family’ by the ‘bedroom tax’. British Politics. doi: 10.1057/s41293-016-0033-5.
- Harvey, D. (2010) The Enigma of Capital: and the Crises of Capitalism. Oxford: Oxford Univ Press.Google Scholar
- Harvey, D. (2014) Afterthoughts on Piketty’s Capital. http://davidharvey.org/2014/05/.
- Hills, J. (2007) Ends and Means: The Future Roles of Social Housing in England: Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion Report 34.Google Scholar
- Hills, J., Cunliffe, J., Obolenskaya, P. and Karagiannaki, E. (2015) Falling behind, getting ahead: The changing structure of inequality in the UK, 2007-2013. Social Policy in a Cold Climate, Research Report, 5.Google Scholar
- Holmlund, H. (2007) Intergenerational Mobility and Assortative Mating: Effects of an Educational Reform. London School of Economics Centre for Economic Performance Working Paper.Google Scholar
- Hood, A. and Joyce, R. (2013) The economic circumstances of cohorts born between the 1940s and the 1970s, R89.Google Scholar
- Jaeger, M. (2007) Educational Mobility Across Three Generations: The Changing Impact of Parental Social Class, Economic, Cultural and Social Capital. Routledge.Google Scholar
- LeBaron, G. and Roberts, A. (2014) Toward a feminist political economy of capitalism and carcerality. Signs 40(1): 19–44.Google Scholar
- McKnight, A. et al. (2015) The Coalition’s Record on Employment: Policy, Spending and Outcomes 2010-2015. Social Policy in a Cold Climate Working Paper, 15.Google Scholar
- Mongiovi, G. (2015) Piketty on capitalism and inequality: A radical economics perspective. Review of Radical Political Economics 47: 558–565.Google Scholar
- Montgomerie, J. and Tepe-Belfrage, D. (2016) A feminist moral-political economy of uneven reform in austerity Britain: Fostering financial and parental literacy. Globalizations 1–16.Google Scholar
- Montgomerie, J. and Young, B. (2010) Home is Where The Hardship is. Gender and Wealth (Dis) Accumulation in the Subprime Boom. CRESC Working Paper.Google Scholar
- Muller, W. and Pollak, R. (2004) Social mobility in Europe. In: R. Breen (ed.) Social Mobility in West Germany: The Long Arms of History Discovered? Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Nunn, A. (2012) The political economy of competitiveness and social mobility. British Politics.Google Scholar
- Nunn, A. (2013) Social Mobility and Social Cohesion in European Countries. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.Google Scholar
- Nunn, A. (2015) Saving World Market Society from itself? The New Global Politics of Inequality and the agents of global capitalism. Spectrum: Journal of Global Studies 7(2).Google Scholar
- Nunn, A. and Beekmans, P. (2015) The Political Economy of Competitiveness and Continuous Adjustment in EU Meta-Governance. International Journal of Public Administration.Google Scholar
- Nunn, A., Bickerstaffe, T., Hogarth, T. and Green, A.E. (2010) Post-Code Selection? Employers’ Use of Address-Based Information Shortcuts in Recruitment Decisions. DWP Research Report.Google Scholar
- Nunn, A., Monro, S., Kelsey, S., Bickerstaffe, T., Jassi, S., Hawtin, M. and Halliday, S. (2008) Factors influencing the inter- and intra-class mobility of Jobcentre Plus customers: A case study approach. DWP Research Report 472.Google Scholar
- OECD (2011) Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising. OECD.Google Scholar
- OECD (2012) Labour Losing to Capital: What Explains the Declining Labour Share? Paris: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
- OECD (2013) Crisis squeezes income and puts pressure on inequality and poverty: New Results from the OECD Income Distribution Database.Google Scholar
- OECD (2014a) INCOME INEQUALITY UPDATE Rising Inequality: Youth and Poor Fall Further Behind. OECD.Google Scholar
- OECD (2014b) OECD Gender Data Portal: Time Use Accross the World. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
- Pessoa, J.P. (2013) Decoupling of Wage Growth and Productivity Growth? Myth and Reality. CEP Discussion Paper No 1246.Google Scholar
- Reay, D., Crozier, G. and Clayton, J. (2010) “Fitting in” or “standing out’: Working-class students in UK higher education. British Educational Research Journal 32(1): 1–19.Google Scholar
- Soederberg, S. (2014) Debtfare States and the Poverty Industry: Money, Discipline and the Surplus Population. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Stiglitz, J. (2014) New theoretical perspectives on the distribution of income and wealth among individuals. Presentation given at Colombia University on, 8.Google Scholar
- Tepe-Belfrage, D. and Nunn A. (Forthcoming). Disciplinary Social Policy and the failing promise of the New Middle Classes: The Troubled Families Programme. Social Policy and Society.Google Scholar
- Varoufakis, Y. (2014) Egalitarianism’s latest foe: a critical review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-Frist Century. Real-World Economics Review 18.Google Scholar
- Wade, R.H. (2014) The Piketty phenomenon and the future of inequality. Real World Economics Review 2.Google Scholar
- Women’s Budget Group (2015) The Impact on Women of July Budget 2015: A Budget that Undermines Women’s Security. London: Women’s Budget Group.Google Scholar