Tipping Point for Advanced Capitalism: Class, Class Consciousness and Activism in the “Knowledge Economy” by D.W. Livingstone

What is really fascinating about class in North America is the way we like to act like we don’t have any — or if we do, we all trend to the middle. This is at the heart of D.W. Livingstone’s work here, a long-time scholar of labour, writing about class consciousness and its intersectionality, as we continue to march forward in our late-stage capitalist societies. After decades of study and survey of Canadian workers, Livingstone seeks to examine class dynamics, class consciousness, and in particular, examines how the story of capitalism is crumbling across society, where many people are turning away from the idea of unfettered profit, and back to the support of labour. Tipping Point for Advanced Capitalism is a study of what people think, and where we go from here — backed by the data Livingstone has collected over decades on these questions of class and capitalism.

Reviewing this for TMR, which is largely concerned with works that have more mainstream appeal, though we do dabble in lots of things, is an interesting experience. Tipping Point for Advanced Capitalism is an academic book, and it is accordingly dense. Livingstone does write it in a fairly accessible way: beginning with clearly defining the questions, what he means by class, and generally walking the reader through his argument and evidence, but there is no escaping that Livingstone was part of the academy for decades, and writes accordingly. For that reason, I think this book will be a slog even for those who choose it (it was for me too!), and even though it is critical at this current societal flashpoint to understand where we’re going, and the disconnect between what Livingstone calls corporate capitalists and the other classes, all primarily labour based. However, if you decide to dive in and take your time to really parse the language and points, it will be a rewarding challenge.

Tipping Point for Advanced Capitalism is a thoughtful, measured, and most importantly, evidence-based book about class dynamics in the present, and both a warning for corporate capitalists and a rallying cry for the rest of us. Livingstone states, “we know that transition to a more democratic, environmentally sustainable system is both preferable and practical. The environmental case for responding profoundly to global warming is now indisputable to all but the dimmest or richest narcissists.” This isn’t working anymore, and the shifts in society have made it clear, especially over the last few years, that we need to change. Tipping Point for Advanced Capitalism sheds some light on where we might go from here.

D.W. Livingstone is Professor Emeritus and past Canada Research Chair in Lifelong Learning and Work at OISE/ University of Toronto. His most relevant prior books include Professional Power and Skill Use in the “Knowledge Economy”: A Class Analysis (2021); The Education–Jobs Gap (1998); and Class, Ideologies and Educational Futures (1983/2012).

Publisher: Fernwood Publishing (September 7, 2023)
Paperback 9″ x 6″ | 368 pages
ISBN: 9781773636405

 -- Website

Alison Manley has ricocheted between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for most of her life. Now in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she is the Cataloguing and Metadata Librarian at Saint Mary's University. Her past life includes a long stint as a hospital librarian on the banks of the mighty Miramichi River. She has an honours BA in political science and English from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University. While she's adamant that her love of reading has nothing to do with her work, her ability to consume large amounts of information very quickly sure is helpful. She is often identified by her very red lipstick, and lives with her partner Brett and cat, Toasted Marshmallow.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.