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  • Author or Editor: Gabriella Elgenius x
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The text on Social Division and Resentment in the Aftermath of the Economic Slumpanalyses 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.

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This article analyses challenges for civil society research in superdiverse areas and proposes ways to overcome them. Key components of previous studies are problematised, such as the lack of attention to demographic complexity, the focus on formally registered organisations at the expense of informal ‘below the radar’ initiatives, the over-reliance on analyses using administrative data and building on dichotomous categorisations of social capital. The article calls for scholars to develop methodologies and theory that enable research across the full range of civil society activity. We argue for a holistic approach to researching civil society through comparative and mixed-methods designs that facilitate research about the nature of civil society action, its forms, patterns and experiences. The concept of ‘superdiversity’ is useful to reflect evolving demographic complexity, given age, gender, nationality, religion and immigration status, and divergent experiences of rights and the labour market.

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