Capital in Crisis? Implications for Work and Society

Published 2010

Publication Type: Non Refereed Journal Articles

Author(s): Murray, Georgina

The global financial crisis and the uneven recovery from it have been at the forefront of public debate for over a year. Millions of workers around the globe have lost their jobs; millions of others are working fewer hours than they want; millions more are experiencing work intensification and longer hours for reduced pay; and many others are sitting precariously balanced, somewhere on the continuum that stretches between these two extremes. A small number of individuals have been singled out as responsible for the situation and they are paying a penalty. But with few exceptions their penalty is rarely more serious than the loss of their own jobs. Many more are still enjoying the fruits of decisions and structures that reap rewards gleaned in over a decade’s frenzy in almost unfettered markets, exorbitant bonuses and executive salaries, and all done with the complicity of the state. The response of nation states to the crisis has been undertaken with speed, efficacy and, perhaps least expectedly, a return to Keynesian demand-driven solutions. The question is why has this globally uneven transition from crisis to recovery taken place? And most importantly what does this mean for labour? We argue here that a major tool to understand this is political economy for it provides an analytic framework and a diagnostic tool used to find new directions.

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