Cannadine on Class

BBC Radio 4

Professor David Cannadine argues that class identity and the notion of history as a continuous ‘class struggle’ have been overplayed by historians and politicians. He dismantles the Marxist view that events from the Civil War to the 2019 election are part of a narrative in which class consciousness is the driving force.

He makes clear that other aspects of people’s identity – their religious beliefs, their sense of nationality, their gender and race – cut across a loyalty to class. He also looks at some events in the 19th century – Peterloo and the Chartists – and finds these were generally reformist movements aimed at better and more representative government, rather than pre-revolutionary uprisings to overthrow the bourgeoisie.

Produced by Susan Marling

Broadcast: Monday 21st September  2020 on BBC Radio 4