Politics & Political Theory

Introduction: Hope, labour, disconnection

This collection of papers traces the ‘labours of hope’ which are both enabling and challenging the reproduction of capitalist relations in the contemporary moment. It brings together five ethnographic accounts of groups in diverse geographical and historical contexts across both global North and South who share a structural and spatial disconnection from dominant localised circulations of capital and value. These accounts trace how different groups – from those who face un/underemployment to those pushed into homelessness – engage in various physical, mental, and emotional practices on a daily basis that sustain a vital sense of hope for the unfolding future. The authors each examine how these practices – which reach across and collapse the boundaries between production and social reproduction – constitute forms of ‘emotional labour’, crucial to sustaining self, family, community, and sociality in the context of capitalist systems that are disconnecting many from their promises of progress. The labour of hope, we argue, represents an affective, moral, and material terrain of political struggle right now: it is both an object of exploitation which facilitates accumulation and inequality, and a horizon of possibility which might open up challenges to existing regimes of value and spatial inequality, or formulate alternatives. Before delving into the rich empirically based papers, the aim of this introduction is to set the scene and provide the conceptual scaffolding by presenting the key terms which underpin this special issue.

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Volume 39 Issue 5

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Though not an exhaustive list, these are many of the main areas we cover.