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anchormanGlasgow in Scotland is a wonderful city. If it’s puffed neighbour Edinburgh is a city to visit, Glasgow is a city to live in. Before he died in tragic circumstances Scotland’s first First Minister in its new Parliament, Donald Dewar, described it as a handsome city. Indeed in recent years Glasgow has been named UK City of Architecture and Design, and a few years earlier European Capital of Culture. In 2014 it hosts the Commonwealth Games (think summer Olympics for the countries of the old British Empire). It’s all part of the repositioning of a city that was once an industrial heartland for Scotland and that empire.

In recent years that repositioning Read More

US inequality

Rising income inequality in the United States has become big news over the last few years. Sociology and left political economy have always seen inequality as a structural outcome necessarily produced by the normal operation of capitalist economies. The recent concern shown by mainstream economists and some politicians is more curious, given that – with the exception of a three-year period in the 1990s and again in the 2000s – income inequality has risen steadily from 1968 to the present.

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young good looking retail workers

It has become something of an orthodoxy on both sides of the Atlantic that job quality is polarising into good and bad jobs. A lot of attention in the US and UK is focused on making these bad jobs better. It is less well appreciated that good jobs can go bad and that bad jobs can get even worse. It might be that aesthetic labour contributes to the latter.

Much of the initial research into aesthetic labour has analysed retail jobs. Employment in retail constitutes what might be termed a ‘bad job’. Most jobs in retail are low skill and retail is one of the main low wage industries in the US and UK.

It seems that this bad job is getting worse however as retail companies seek to aestheticise their workforce, hiring employees who look good or sound right. Two developments have emerged as a consequence of this aestheticisation strategy by employers.

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