Progressive politics and populism: Classes of labour and rural–urban political sociology: An introduction to the special issue

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This special issue analyses the prospects for a progressive politics against right-wing populism and capitalism. Taken as a whole, its articles underline the need to understand progressive movements as encompassing agrarian, rural, and urban settings and as socially rooted among labourers and petty commodity producers that do not accumulate (classes of labour), which includes the majority of farmers. Most of the world's rural population now reproduce themselves to some degree in towns and cities, which necessitates further development of a rural–urban political sociology. Articles in the special issue discuss existing and potential organizations and networks of classes of labour. They point to the political potential of migrant populations to erode the social divisions of race, ethnicity, and nationality that capitalism and right-wing populism construct to defend their interests. They contribute to understanding of why some members of classes of labour support racist nationalist populisms that pit them against fellow members of classes of labour. And they show why national contexts matter. Forms of capitalist government, including varieties of populism, are linked to world-historical dynamics of accumulation and reproduction, as well as racialized class relations, and constrain routes to progressive politics in different ways. Analysis of them can inform counter-strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-21
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Agrarian Change
Issue number1
Early online date10 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • agrarian movements
  • classes of labour
  • petty commodity producer
  • political sociology
  • populism

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