This piece seeks to represent working class experience under neoliberalism imposed in the UK by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1979. The cage represents the ‘capturing’ and constricting of the working class as their economic, political and social power has been deliberately dismantled over the last 35 years via what has been described as the economics of class war (1). The piece also references Max Weber’s concept of the working class experiencing industrial capitalism as an ‘iron cage’ (2). Within the cage there are various artefacts that anesthetize and distract the working class to/from their experience. Referencing ‘1984’ (3) these include lottery tickets, sexualised images and alcohol. The wine bottle is from Chile where neoliberalism was first imposed under Pinochet in 1970s. In the top corner of the structure is a CCTV camera representing the preventative surveillance and control exercised by the state upon its citizens.The title 1979-2016-? implies an uncertainty about where society in now heading.
(1) Harvey, D. (2005) A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
(2) Weber, M, The Iron Cage (1985) quoted in Bowman, M. (et al) (2001) Religion, Modernity and Change: Course Introduction, Milton Keynes, The Open University and Cole, N. Understanding Max Weber’s “Iron Cage” and why it’s More relevant Today, http://sociology.about.com/od/Key-Theoretical-Concepts/fl/Understanding-Max-Webers-Iron-Cage.htm
(3) Orwell, G. (1949) 1984, London, Penguin.