Popular culture and anti-austerity protest

Rebecca Bramall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 which I develop and use to question the currently dominant critical position in left-cultural politics, the position of being ‘anti-austerity’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-22
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of European Popular Culture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2012

Bibliographical note

This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in the Journal of European Popular Culture. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at: http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-journal,id=177/


  • age of austerity
  • anti-austerity protest
  • austerity
  • austerity chic
  • consumer culture
  • popular culture


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