The everyday politics of the age of austerity: crisis and the legitimation of fiscal consolidation in the UK

Stanley, Liam (2014). The everyday politics of the age of austerity: crisis and the legitimation of fiscal consolidation in the UK. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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In 2010, the British Coalition government came to power explicitly promising spending cuts as part of a wider fiscal consolidation programme to resolve a debt crisis. Despite this promise to reduce public services, the British public seemed to reluctantly accept as necessary the imperatives of this debt crisis. Why? Through the analysis of data from focus groups conducted around Birmingham, this thesis tackles this puzzle of austerity acquiescence by answering a double-edged central research question: how do everyday actors make sense of austerity, and what do these processes tell us about the legitimation of austerity and the wider politics of crisis? The central argument is that while austerity is a vague and highly moral idea, it is simultaneously powerful and 'successful' inasmuch that it resonates with the 'mood of the times'. In other words, fiscal consolidation has been conferred a degree of legitimacy since it can be justified in line with some of the intersubjective beliefs and experiences of the public. Through this argument, this thesis primarily contributes to the discipline of political economy through a novel empirical account of austerity acquiescence and a constructivist framework for exploring how crises and narratives are conferred legitimacy through resonating with the mood of the times.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)


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