Since the 1970s—in effect, the rise of neoliberalism—efforts by photographers to represent the working class have been accompanied by a substantial diminution in the power of that class and by efforts to redescribe its members in both individualizing and racialized terms. Focusing on work made by the British photographer Chris Killip (in the late seventies and early eighties) and on work made by the American photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier (some thirty years later), this article analyzes the way these photographers acknowledge the decline in working-class power while insisting on the continuing power of the idea of class conflict. Its concern is above all with the relations between photographer, subject, and audience and with the formal strategies deployed to insist on a certain structural antagonism between the photograph and its beholders.

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