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Austerity, Community Action, and the Future of Citizenship$
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Shana Cohen, Christina Fuhr, and Jan-Jonathan Bock

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781447331032

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447331032.001.0001

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Social division and resentment in the aftermath of the economic slump

Social division and resentment in the aftermath of the economic slump

(p.39) Three Social division and resentment in the aftermath of the economic slump
Austerity, Community Action, and the Future of Citizenship

Gabriella Elgenius

Policy Press

The text on Social Division and Resentment in the Aftermath of the Economic Slump analyses the social repercussions of the Great Recession, engulfing the rich world in a similar fashion from 2008 onwards as did the Great Depression of the 1930s. The arguments put forward in this study challenges the standard definition of the recession, the rhetoric of all, the One Nation and Big Society by highlighting the experiences of the few and the social repercussions associated with austere times. First, the definition of the recession (as two successive quarters of negative growth) fails to capture the harsh realities of those affected or the destructive social impact of austerity. Second, as the worst economic slump since the Second World War the recent economic downturn is adequately labelled the nastiest recession to date as it hit groups, already fighting socio-economic vulnerability, disproportionately, due to welfare cuts and squeezed incomes. This, alongside the unequalising trend of wealth increase relative to GDP over time and persisting hard time experiences despite signs of a recovering economy since 2014. Third, the rhetoric of being in it together appears incorrect at best and the notion of shared experiences and burdens implied by the One Nation rhetoric strays far from our material. In sum, empirical findings highlight social relations being undermined by austerity as social division, resentment and isolation follow the aftermath of the economic downturn. The most salient pattern of the material point towards resentment between those in work – resenting the benefits of those without work; and those without work on benefits resenting other sub-groups on different benefits.

Keywords:   Social division, social isolation, social capital, great recession 2008, one nation rhetoric, welfare cuts

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