Beyond engaged pluralism? The question of labor in labor geography

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Labor geography is a vibrant, variegated subdiscipline, but there are also concerns over its lack of theoretical coherence. In this paper, I examine Open Marxist approaches that engage with post-structuralism and feminism based on Marx's concepts of abstract and concrete labor to frame a review of recent labor geography and related contributions on (a) social reproduction, difference, and class; (b) work, technology and precarity; and (c) labor's agency. I make three main arguments. First, while many conceptual tools for the analysis of social reproduction and difference exist within Marxism, because of their engagement with feminism and post-structuralism, these are being more fully developed. Second, Open Marxist contributions to this dialogue require greater emphasis upon the dialectical relationship between concrete, non-wage workers struggles against abstract labor and wage worker struggles of abstract labor within the totality of capitalism. Third, while important engagements are ongoing between Marxism, post-structuralism and feminism greater integration is neither needed nor desirable precisely because of Marxism's unique combination of conceptual coherence and open-endedness, which means that this interaction is a source of its theoretical development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-107
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Geography(United Kingdom)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • Labor geography
  • Open Marxism
  • engaged pluralism
  • labor
  • restructuring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Philosophy


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