Class, Inequality & Oppression

  • A New Notion: Two Works by C.L.R. James

    The Invading Socialist Society and Every Cook Can Govern

    By Noel Ignatiev and C.L.R. James     July 2010

    C.L.R. James was a leading figure in the independence movement in the West Indies, and the black and working-class movements in both Britain and the United States. As a major contributor to Marxist and revolutionary theory, his project was to discover, document, and elaborate the aspects of working-class activity that constitute the revolution in today’s world. In this volume, Noel Ignatiev, author of How the Irish Became White, provides an extensive introduction to James’ life and thought, before presenting two critical works that together illustrate the tremendous breadth and depth of James’ worldview.

  • Maternity Rolls

    Pregnancy, Childbirth and Disability

    By Heather Kuttai     April 2010

    Heather Kuttai is a 40-year-old white, heterosexual woman. She is married and is the mother of two children. Living in a quiet, middle-class neighbourhood, her life is, in many ways, seemingly the quintessential picture of what many consider to be traditional. However, her life is not as conventional as it appears: she is a paraplegic and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Her disability dramatically changes the picture. Much of the writing about the experiences of women and mothers excludes the stories of women with disabilities. Established norms dictate that a mother’s body be “healthy” and “whole.” Because the body with disabilities is often seen for what it cannot do, taking on the role of mother can give the body a different value, status and worth. Heather’s experiences as a woman with a disability experiencing pregnancy and childbirth offers insights into what is already known about women’s bodies. The stories she tells of her life, her pregnancies and giving birth illustrate both her self-awareness and her awareness of our society’s negative perceptions of disability.

  • Poverty, Regulation & Social Justice

    Readings on the Criminalization of Poverty

    Edited by Diane Crocker and Val Marie Johnson     April 2010

    Emerging from a public colloquium on the criminalization of poverty, this volume critically interrogates how state and private practices have increasingly come to over-regulate people with severely limited economic resources, and understands this regulation as part of the dynamics of liberal capitalism. Exploring issues such as homelessness, social assistance and single mothers, and written from a diversity of perspectives from academics to frontline workers, policy-makers and those affected first hand by these practices, this book aims to help readers imagine a more compassionate future.

  • About Canada: Animal Rights

    By John Sorenson     March 2010

    Adopting Mahatma Gandhi’s idea that “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” this book considers the status of animals in Canada. Casting a critical gaze over how dominant ideologies, such as capitalism and patriarchy, have negatively impacted our relationships with the natural world, Sorenson examines the institutional exploitation of animals in agriculture, fashion and entertainment. Addressing the fur trade, seal hunt, Calgary Stampede, puppy mills, horse slaughter and Canada’s virtually unregulated vivisection industry, the book analyzes discourses used by animal-exploitation industries to defend their practices and suggests that a society that claims to protect animals while maintaining antiquated laws is suffering from “moral schizophrenia.” This book advocates an abolitionist agenda, promotes veganism as a personal and political commitment, shows the economic, environmental and health costs of animal exploitation and presents animal rights as a social justice issue.

  • Global Capitalism in Crisis

    Karl Marx & The Decay of the Profit System

    By Murray E.G.  Smith     March 2010

    The world economy is currently experiencing a devastating slump not seen since the Second World War. Unemployment rates are skyrocketing and salaries are plummeting in the developed world, while astronomical food prices and starvation ravage the developing world. The crisis in global capitalism, Smith argues, should be understood as both a composite crisis of overproduction, credit and finance, and a deep-seated systemic crisis. Using Marx to analyze the origins, implications and scope of the current economic slump, this book argues that the crisis needs to be understood structurally, as the result of a system prone to crisis, rather than as an aberration.

  • Down But Not Out

    Community and the Upper Streets in Halifax, 1890-1914

    By David Hood     February 2010

    An examination of poverty and homelessness in Halifax at the turn of the twentieth century, this book challenges the notion that the poor are deviants who are responsible for their own misfortune. Historians have too often accepted this characterization of poverty without question and, in so doing, have allowed for its perpetuation into current discourse. Through an exploration of public records and the stories of real people, David Hood breathes life into Halifax’s sordid past – and reveals the humanity and complexity of the poor. They were not ‘deviants’ in trouble with the law or ‘cheats’ living on government handouts, but were rather people trying to make ends meet under difficult circumstances. This book provokes readers to rethink accepted notions of poverty and homelessness and, in so doing opens the possibility for recognition and empathy.

  • Ontario Works–Works for Whom?

    An Investigation of Workfare in Ontario

    By Julie Vaillancourt     February 2010

    This book is an institutional ethnographic investigation of the Ontario Works program and the problems that it creates in the lives of people on social assistance. Ontario Works is a work-for-welfare program that was implemented in Ontario in 1996 as part of the neoliberal restructuring of the welfare state. The book shows that Ontario Works has not, in reality, been used to help people on assistance and rather has been used as another means of facilitating an attack on them, while providing subsidized and cheap labour for companies and social agencies.

  • Cities

    By Jeremy Seabrook     January 2007

    Every year tens of millions of people abandon rural areas of the South for life in the city. Already overcrowded urban centres are under increasing pressure. With education, health care and even safe water in short supply, cities risk becoming sites of violent conflict for future generations. The urban poor are less accepting of their fate than the scattered rural poor. And yet, world governments are doing little to address these demographic shifts or to provide the basic services that rapid urbanization demands. Jeremy Seabrook offers a vivid portrait of the lives of people who migrate from impoverished villages to towns and cities.

  • Beyond Token Change

    Breaking the Cycle of Oppression in Institutions

    By Anne Bishop     January 2005

    Beyond Token Change examines the patterns of oppression found in organizations and institutions. Anne Bishop uses a case study as a starting point to consider the nature of institutions beyond the sum of their parts. Bishop explains how institutions can go beyond token change to transform the institutional structure at a deeper level. She looks at the implications for the tactics we employ to achieve equity in our institutions. In particular, she proposes a method of focusing attention on the institution and its dynamics that goes beyond putting individuals within the institution “on trial” for discrimination.

    Beyond Token Change is the sequel to Becoming an Ally: Breaking the Cycle of Oppression in People, Bishop’s classic exploration of the dynamics of sexism, racism, heterosexism, agism, ableism and other forms of oppression, including how indivduals learn and reproduce these patterns and the steps required to change them.

  • Identity, Place, Knowledge

    Social Movements, Contesting Globalization

    By Janet M. Conway     January 2004

    Grassroots organizations have long been involved in the education and mobilization of local populations. Through the development of coalition formation, broad-based campaign-organizing and popular and activist education, information and experiences are shared amongst activists and interested individuals. Janet M. Conway looks at how social justice organizations struggle to build momentum when many of the groups are disparate and the development of ideas are often articulated through actions. Conway examines the experiences within a particular organization, the Metro Network for Social Justice, in Toronto. This small, place-based group contributed, with thousands of others like it, to the demonstrations in Seatle in 1999. These groups have become sophisticated forums to explore the structures of representation, decision-making, democratic governance and problems of inequality and power/knowledge in activist politics. By focusing on MNSJ, Conway is able to explore topics that affect any number of groups involved in social justice and to offer some hard hitting analysis on how it is that small groups scattered around the world are able to affect change.