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Nostalgia and Austerity, or, the never-ending dream of excess

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The article is an attempt to examine the transformation of the neo-liberal ideology of consumption that has taken place since the onset of the global recession in 2008. The first section is an examination of Karl Marx's account of the antagonisms inherent in classical economic theories of happiness, desire and prosperity, and how these have been intensified in the neo-liberal culture of consumption. The second section analyses the present conditions of class and identity formation that the UK Conservative Party has called ‘Broken Britain’. Specifically, I will look at the relationship between the culture of ‘chance’, as it has crystallized into the discursive and aesthetic figure of ‘the underclass’, and the forms of ressentiment that are its ideological counterpart. The final section will examine the significance of this configuration of the prudent and the profligate, the decent and the obscene, for the possibility of social and political change.

Keywords: conservatism; consumption; ideology; representation; underclass

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of BirminghamNostalgia

Publication date: 2012-11-16

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  • 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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