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The socialist blues? Citizenship, class and civil society

Stevenson, Nick

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This article seeks to explore the relationship between the British labour movement, the Left and the Labour party. It does so through the intellectual prism of debates around citizenship and civil society. In this respect, I seek to recover a critical politics around questions of class from the New Left who were always critical of more mainstream ideas of citizenship. However, I also point to the limitations of those who have argued that meaningful forms of citizenship can no longer be connected to political parties and only occurs outside of state organizations. Political parties continue to need intellectual narratives to legitimate their role in society and to connect with the broader civil order.The Labour Party in this respect has seemingly broken with ‘New Labour’ and is searching for a new narrative. The rise of an intellectual grouping around ‘Blue Labour’ has made considerable headway recently and I seek to take a critical view of some of their ideas and ethical frameworks. Here I argue that changing class formations and a more pluralistic society potentially ask difficult questions of those who seek to revive the labour movement in troubled times.


Stevenson, N. (in press). The socialist blues? Citizenship, class and civil society. Sociological Review, 62(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 1, 2013
Online Publication Date Feb 27, 2014
Deposit Date Jun 29, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jun 29, 2016
Journal Sociological Review
Print ISSN 0038-0261
Electronic ISSN 1467-954X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 62
Issue 1
Keywords third way, citizenship, civil society, class, civic repair, the long revolution
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Stevenson, N. (2014), The socialist blues? Citizenship, class and civil society. The Sociological Review, 62: 189–205, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


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