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This chapter draws on feminist identification to further examine austerity's moral discourses. Feminism, as this chapter illustrates, is a productive site through which to examine austerity practices. The chapter also exposes how feminism becomes an active force field that reinforces and questions certain aspects of the austerity project, and a way through which moral, classed and racialized differences are opposed and further reproduced. It highlights that some women do not claim a feminist position, or are unsure about the label, however, this does not mean that feminism is rejected by all. Some women's locations do not mediate feminist consciousness in predictable ways and their struggle is not narrated solely in terms of gender relations. The chapter argues that many women, on the other hand, do claim a feminist position. Some women identify with a particular form of neoliberal feminism which converges with, and reinforces austerity policies and discourses. Ultimately, it shows how women are identifying with and advocating for antineoliberal forms of feminism. Making interventions in the austerity project, collective action was seen as necessary to aid social justice and the common good.

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This chapter pays particular attention to how women's future imaginaries are felt in the present. It explores how austerity affects these imaginaries and asks which types of futures have women begun to imagine in the context of austerity. Women's future imaginings are multiple and are affected particularly by class positioning. The chapter changes its focus to reveal the ways in which austerity affects women's access to different kinds of imagined and real futures. Making interventions into some of the more utopian and post-political futures' research and thinking, this chapter specifically reflects on the different ways in which austerity distributes social distress and anxiety. Ultimately, it presents a nuanced analysis of how women imagine but also plan their future.

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This chapter investigates how women who are significantly affected by austerity and welfare reform and who are devalued and made abject by the symbolic and institutional violence of the austerity programme — single mothers, women reliant on welfare, migrant women and women with disabilities or health conditions — talk about the austerity agenda. It unpacks the role of the state in reinforcing and producing social divisions, processes of discrimination, stigmatization, prejudice, exclusion and blame in the everyday. The chapter explores the complex, contradictory and nuanced ways in which women who are closer to the stigmatized position of the 'bad citizen' simultaneously reproduce and reinforce moralistic narratives of economic productivity and moral worth and, at the same time, question and talk back to existing discourses through processes of distancing, blame, boundary formation and creation of alternative values.

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Lived Experiences of the Crisis
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Using interviews with women from diverse backgrounds, Dabrowski makes an invaluable contribution to the debates around the gendered politics of austerity in the UK.

Exploring the symbiotic relationship between the state’s legitimization of austerity and women’s everyday experiences, she reveals how unjust policies are produced, how alternatives are silenced and highlights the different ways in which women are used or blamed.

By understanding austerity as more than simply an economic project, this book fills important gaps in existing knowledge on state, gender and class relations in the context of UK austerity.

Austerity, Women and the Role of the State is shortlisted for the 2021 BSA Philip Abrams Memorial Prize.

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The concluding chapter reviews the central themes from this book and discusses their implications for the role of the state in continuing to reproduce and legitimize gendered state violence. It mentions the symbiotic relationship between austerity as a gendered state project and its gendered social effects. The chapter also recounts the multiple ways in which austerity is produced and legitimized by the state, and situated austerity within its historical context. It then recalls the interviews and group discussions with 61 women from diverse backgrounds in Leeds, London and Brighton during 2014 and 2015 and how austerity was experienced and articulated in their everyday lives. These discussions thus raise speculative questions about the human complexity of the imposition of austerity and the long-term political and social consequences of creating a generation which has been led to suppose that austerity is somehow essential.

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This introductory chapter explores the role of the state in shaping women's different experiences. It presents a gendered analysis of the nuanced workings of the state during current and previous times of crisis. The monograph studies how the state and austerity's historical legacies return and work upon present-day gendered experiences, reproducing and legitimizing economic, symbolic and institutional violence. It offers an illustration of how forms of social identification are made within a context of crisis. The chapter explains that by documenting women's differing attempts to deal with the constraints of UK austerity, the book shows how women respond to their existing or changing circumstances, and unpacks the often complex negotiation that goes on between the individual and the social. Ultimately, it explores how women try to adapt to unfolding events — pay freezes, periods of unemployment, cuts to welfare — but, at the same time, also attempt to maintain what they know and what they value.

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The chapter explores how austerity measures — the consequences of welfare reform, increased levels of debt, increased pressure on household income and wages, and changes to employment — have differently affected women's everyday lives. Austerity has real outcomes and gendered social effects. It is this symbiotic relationship — the role of the state in shaping women's experiences — that the remainder of the chapters of this book investigate. Highlighting how changes to employment and living standards are impacted by class and other intersecting forms of social difference, this chapter demonstrates how austerity measures intensify and extend existing forms of inequality. Ultimately, this chapter exposes how women are certainly not 'all in this together,' showing that the gendered effects of austerity are not experienced equally; they can be felt as minimal, significant or extreme. It exposes the details on how women's experiences of the present are shaped by pre-existing social markers, particularly class, but also by 'race,' parenthood, health and disability; and how these experiences are being further exacerbated by, and within, austerity Britain.

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This chapter reveals how women respond to and navigate through the effects of austerity measures. It highlights the commonalities in women's navigation strategies, but also where and how these approaches diverge, with particular attention paid towards the strategies employed by single mothers. Here, divergent accounts of varieties of austerity as lived come into view, from women changing their shopping habits in fairly minor ways, to the use of foodbanks and informal loans. Ultimately, this chapter discusses five sections of this book, each of which explore the different ways and the extent to which these women are navigating through austerity. It is through such a nuanced analysis that we can further understand both the commonalities and divergences in women's experiences.

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This chapter takes a look on the social and political history of austerity in the UK. It begins with a historical contextualization of austerity as a repeating political project, exploring how the state has been put to use during different times of crisis and state regimes. This genealogy provides a gendered analysis of the workings of the state, highlighting how women have continually been used and/or blamed. It then shifts on the present era of UK austerity. Through the examination of policy documents and political discourse, it investigates how moral discourses that emanate from the state both justify changes to the welfare state and reinforce gendered, classed and 'racial' divisions inside the population. Ultimately, the chapter situates the present context of austerity within historical legacies that structure, reproduce and legitimize material and symbolic violence. In doing so, it analyses how the state has crafted and shaped gender and class relations within these different periodizations.

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