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Key Idea: The Crisis of Positionality

The crisis of positionality for those committed to egalitarian public service arises from the repositionings that are legislated in the new global work order. As I say on page 104 of Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives ‘the crisis of positionality arises at this point because high modern capital has successfully reconstituted and repositioned the social relations of production: 

  1. A crisis of positionality arises at this point, because high modern capital has successfully reconstituted and repositioned the social relations of production: the newly deregulated global circulation of capital substantially confines and repositions those social movements that have sought to tackle issues of redistribution and inequality. Welfare states, national trade unions, progressive movements and so on can be redefined by a press of the button which moves capital from ‘intransigent’ national and local sites (economically inefficient sites) to more malleable sites (economically competitive sites).

What this means in practice is that a nurse working in a National Health ward and committed to the health and wellbeing of all people, equally distributed and delivered can have a position redefined by the new patterns of the global work order. Hence she could still be committed to equal care for all but because the NHS is marketised she could find herself delivering superior care to those patients paying privately and less resourced care to those not paying. Hence whilst still committed to egalitarian practices her work could be repositioned by wider structural forces. The same could obtain in a comprehensive school where the teachers remain committed to equal education for all but because of the opening up of new sectors such as strengthened private schooling, Academies and Free Schools, their position as deliverers of a comprehensive education for all is repositioned in spite of their efforts. These are examples of the ‘crisis of positionality’ which now face all who work in progressive social movements and moments.