My academic work has used, and sought to develop, Marxist spatial political economy. It is politically and morally partisan, for socialism. I have published in the following fields:-
- Local and regional political-economic governance in contemporary developed countries
- Industrial geography, labour processes and industrial relations
- The present era of global capitalism, and the nature of neoliberalism
- Poverty, disadvantage, and social exclusion
- Marxist geographical theory
- Brexit and British politics since 2015
- Gay life, capitalism, and gay liberation
- Working class consciousness and understandings
The final research theme concerns not subject matter but methodology:-
9. Totalities, dialectics and comprehensive analyses in my work
My main arguments in each of these fields, and the relevant publications, are described below. There are, of course, considerable overlaps between these fields. The fields are given in alphabetical order of their title.
- My writing on Brexit and British politics since 2015.
- Writing on sexual identities and sexual politics relating them to the development of capitalist societies. And hence relating sexual liberation to socialist strategy and socialist society.
- Economic and industrial geography of the last thirty years has had little interest in the organisation of work (‘the labour process’) and management-employee relations within workplaces.
- This has been the centre of my intellectual contribution in the last twenty years. Much of this work has been done in collaboration with Aram Eisenschitz. It encompasses work on local and regional economies, the nexus of local economy and social life, and the role of levels of the state and ‘partnership’ organisations; on this basis it attempts to understand localities as wholes.
- All my work has argued for the importance of space (territory, distance, scale) in the construction of the social world. It has also argued that this spatial-social world is best understood in terms of social relations as conceived by Marxism.
- Most of my work has been concerned with inequality of power and resources, along lines of class, gender, ‘race’ and sexuality. Local economic policies (field 2 above) are strongly, though not exclusively, focused on poor areas, and my work in this field has been correspondingly concerned with poverty.
- I have contributed to debates on the nature of the present era of capitalist development and its forms of spatial governance. This work has proceeded from a close engagement with, and critique of, the two dominant approaches to this subject within geography and economics since the 1980
- A fundamental principle of Marxism, which has affected both the form and content of my writing, is that society is a totality. To enable social analysis, this totality has to be divided into parts, these parts into their parts, and so on. But the dynamics and significance of the parts can only be assessed through their place in the totality; and the parts construct each other – in the language of dialectics they are internally related (see Bertel Olman, Dialectics, 1993). Accordingly, much of my work has sought -
* to place the subject of investigation within larger totalities;
* to examine diverse aspects of the subject and trace their internal relations;
* and to treat the subject comprehensively, in all its aspects.
- A constant, major thread of my work has been the ideas, perceptions, understandings and projects of working class people (the 90%). This is, in part, because of a simple humanism: the importance and significance of social processes lies, in the end, in people’s experience and perceptions of them. It is also because the construction of a socialist society is wholly dependent on developing a socialist consciousness of the majority of humanity, in dialectic with collective action and struggle against capital (that is, praxis). By the same token, the crucial barrier to socialist advance is the partial and mystified ideas continuously generated by life in capitalist society.