Maja Hodošček: Displaying The Worker

Advisor/tutor: Doreen Mende

Independent reviewer: Mark Fisher

Arnhem, June 2013


In the following thesis we ask ourselves how class subjectivity and class struggle are being visualized within the representational practice in contemporary times marked by crisis (financial, political, social and cultural). The concept of the working class (as it was proposed and elaborated by Karl Marx) is no longer sufficient in order to understand the complex relations that constitute the working class today. The means and the territory of production have changed dramatically in the postindustrial society, as well as the scale of production that has become global. Labor has become immaterialized and organized between different parts of the world and is therefore being constituted as a network of complex forms of exchange between subjects, services and products.

The first question that has to be asked in order to address the main concern of the thesis is: who constitutes the working class today?

This question will be approached through a cultural analysis by focusing on the notion of representation as a signifying practice, because only through representation can images communicate. Representation is a practice through which a particular type of meaning is produced. We will address the means through which class subjectivity and class struggle are being projected in the field of arts, cinema and within popular culture.

Theories of representation will help us elaborate on how systems of representation operate and what is their role in the molding of social consciousness when the notion of class is put on display. In order to find the methodology to deconstruct the image, we will use the approach elaborated by the cultural theorist Stuart Hall (1932, Jamaica). If the main objective of the representational practice is the construction and distribution of meaning, then we have to ask ourselves which meaning wants to be privileged when the emphasis is put on class subjectivity.

The use of Hall's theoretical approach will help us grasp the question on how working class subjectivity inscribes itself in the work of representation; what are the means through which it becomes visible.