A Decent House, a Decent Job, a Decent Life: Social Reproduction Theory and Working Class Organizing in Cape Town.


  • Adrian Murray University of Ottawa




Capitalism, class, neoliberalism, social reproduction, social movements


While progressive coalitions continue to oppose neoliberal restructuring, organizing on the left remains fragmented and the underlying unity of the multitude of working class struggles undertheorized. Overcoming these theoretical and practical obstacles is an urgent task in the face of both renewed attempts by the state and capital to ensure stability and deepen market penetration into the remaining untouched corners of working-class life, and threats to unity generated within the left by narrow understandings of class and identity. Drawing on empirical research around struggles for housing and public services in Cape Town, South Africa, this paper argues that Social Reproduction Theory (SRT) may provide just such an integrated theorization of the diverse experiences and struggles of the working class. SRT recovers class by building from everyday experience to generate unifying understandings of class struggle within a capitalist totality in which difference within the class is constitutive.

Author Biography

Adrian Murray, University of Ottawa

School of International Development and Global Studies, PhD Candidate