Popular culture and anti-austerity protest

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Abstract:

The prevailing description of our times as an ‘age of austerity’ has hardened into an axiom with extraordinary rapidity. Focusing on contemporary popular and consumer culture in Britain, this article makes a contribution to the task of subjecting the discourse of ‘austerity’ to the consideration it properly demands. I identify and interrogate the meanings that ‘austerity’ has in contemporary culture, and recall the contingency of the processes through which these meanings have been consolidated,a task that is all the more urgent, I suggest, when it feels like one prevailing signification has already ‘won out’. The article is organized around the discussion of three dominant meanings of austerity: austerity as ‘responsible politics’, deficit reduction and coalition government policy; austerity as the ‘other’ that defines left-political struggle; and austerity as ‘austerity chic’. The latter points to a conception of austerity as object of desire, an element that I develop and use to question the currently dominant critical position in left-cultural politics, the position of being ‘anti-aust rity’.

Keywords: age of austerity; anti-austerity protest; austerity; austerity chic; consumer culture; popular culture

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/jepc.3.1.9_1

Affiliations: University of Brighton

Publication date: November 16, 2012

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of European Popular Culture investigates the creative cultures of Europe, present and past. Exploring European popular imagery, media, new media, film, music, art and design, architecture, drama and dance, fine art, literature and the writing arts, and more, the journal is also of interest to those considering the influence of European creativity and European creative artefacts worldwide.
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