The aesthetic politics of social movements turn public life into a public stage, where mutual displays of performance often trump rational debate, and urban streets become sites of festivals and carnival. In his penetrating new book, Workers of the World, Enjoy!, Kenneth Tucker provides a new model for understanding social change in our image-saturated and aesthetically charged world. As emotional and artistic images inform our perceptions and evaluation of politics, art and performance often provide new and creative ways of understanding self and society.
Spanning the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, Workers of the World, Enjoy! uses examples from major social movements that have dramatically changed the dominant capitalist society—often in the name of labor. Tucker investigates how class and culture develop as he raises questions about what it means for public life and social movements when politics and drama come together.
Tucker catalogues how aesthetic politics influences social movements—from French Revolutionary syndicalism and fascism to the selling of the President and the street theater of the contemporary global justice movement. He also discusses the work of political theorists including Jurgen Habermas, Jeffrey Alexander, and Nancy Fraser to critique the ways public sphere has been studied.