Struggle (or its absence) during the crisis: what power is left?

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5 Citations (Scopus)


We adopt a critical realist notion of power to address the ongoing economic and
financial crisis and responses by left actors and institutions to it. We argue that,
while correct in its assessment of the reduced prospects of social democratic
parties and representative trade unions, much of the current literature on ‘the
left-under-crisis’ equates the left too narrowly with these two forms of strategy
and fails to recognise adequately the potential of other more radical strategic
forms. Consequently, the current literature is too gloomy when considering the
prospects of the left as a whole. A realist framework on power allows us not
only to order the structural and agential factors affecting the left, but also to
demonstrate why certain strategic forms are better able both to identify and disrupt existing power relations and offer the potential for emancipation. To this
end, we argue that a class-based, grassroots activism is best placed both to offer
resistance to developments stemming from the crisis and to renew and demonstrate
left power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-216
JournalJournal of Political Power
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • crisis; critical realism; left; power; struggle


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