Engaging Erik Olin Wright

Engaging Erik Olin Wright:Between Class Analysis and Real Utopias

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Emancipatory social science in action

Erik Olin Wright was one of the most brilliant and world renowned social scientists of our era. He left us in 2019 with an unfinished project - the articulation of class and utopia. Wright's sociological Marxism embarked from an original class analysis, with its trade-mark contradictory class locations, that empirically mapped class structures across the globe. In response to the collapse of communism and the rise of neoliberalism, Wright turned to the premise of class analysis, that is the possibility of socialism.

Forsaking Marxism's allergy to utopian thinking, Wright searched the planet for institutions that might sow the seeds of socialism – such as cooperatives, participatory budgeting, basic income grants – institutions that might dissolve racial, gender, and class inequalities by eroding capitalism. His last book How to be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century, published posthumously in over a dozen languages has become a manifesto for a new world, bringing together and inspiring social movement activists.

The essays in this volume pay tribute to his generative theory, his crystalline teaching and his personal warmth. The authors – all close colleagues or former students – wrestle with the relationship between his two expanding research programs, class analysis and real utopias. They burn the candle from either end, all galvanized by Wright's genius and vision to reinvent Marxism.