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Theodore Powers and Theodoros Rakopoulos

The European sovereign debt crisis and the related processes of austerity have been intensely discussed post-2008. Pensions, livelihoods, and public health have been sacrificed so that debts may be repaid. The resulting social, political, and

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Echoes of austerity

Policy, temporality, and public health in South Africa

Theodore Powers

using the media to bring attention to the impact of the public sector bed closures. On several occasions, Elise forcefully made the point that neo liberal fiscal austerity lay at the root of the health cuts. There was broad agreement with her

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Austerity in Africa

Audit cultures and the weakening of public sector health systems

James Pfeiffer

Béhague 2014 ; Strathern 2000 ) that is in part characterized by managers and accountants usurping the role of actual experts in evaluating and measuring performance. Audit culture became integral to the neoliberal logics of austerity, privatization

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Ruy Llera Blanes

In response to the editors of this theme section's questioning of austerity's “time and place” (see Powers and Rakopoulos, this issue), in this article I explore two ideas: the political semantics of austerity, and its spatialities, unfolding

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Daniel M. Knight

surfaces. And then there are the crippling extra property taxes introduced over the last few years.” As austerity ravishes every aspect of life, the inherited home has become a financial and psychological drain. The irony, Eleni notes, is that by signing

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The Janus face of austerity politics

Autonomy and dependence in contemporary Spain

Susana Narotzky

opportunities, and the state's mediation between generations in the form of the pension system. In Spain unemployment, indebtedness, job instability, and austerity policies foster everyday interdependencies that provide support through personal networks or

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Bodies of and against austerity

Gendered dispossession, agency and struggles for worth in Portugal

Patrícia Alves de Matos

This article explores the relationships between the body, gendered dispossession and agency under conditions of austerity in Portugal. Drawing from ethnographic research undertaken in 2015 and 2016 in a Portuguese post‐industrial town, this article focuses on the examination of how concrete physical experiences and social anxieties framed working‐class women’s experiences and explanations of the austerity‐led crisis of social reproduction and the ways through which the body was mobilised as a metaphor to make sense of forced and disruptive reconfigurations of the means of livelihood reproduction. It examines how working‐class women resorted to embodied practices, knowledges and moralities as a way of fulfilling provisioning pursuits, to assert rights, entitlements and aspirations. Throughout this article, women’s bodily experiences and embodied practices, knowledges and moralities are the main point of entry from which to reflect on the gendered, contested and negotiated nature of the austerity economic and political project. This article argues for the relevance of addressing the mobilisation of historically embodied legacies of gendered and classed dispossession in the making of ‘actually existing austerity’.

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Corinne Schwaller

Austerity politics and labour reforms in Spain have intensified the precaritization of employment, both inside and outside academia. Drawing on the cases of two highly educated young women, this paper suggests an analysis of academic precarity that focuses on the intertwining of the academic and the non‐academic world of work in (re)producing precarity. In Spain, a less precarious alternative to precarity in academia is often nonexistent, putting young academics in a situation of blackmail to accept precarious conditions. Consequently, precarity is increasingly normalised. Yet, the process of the normalisation of precarity is understood not only as the growth of precarious jobs and the lack of alternatives, but, more fundamentally, as a shift in the perception of what can be legitimately claimed or expected within employment relations more generally.

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Michèle Lamont and Nicolas Duvoux

This essay considers changes in the symbolic boundaries of French society under the influence of neo-liberalism. As compared to the early nineties, stronger boundaries toward the poor and blacks are now being drawn, while North-African immigrants and their offsprings continue to be largely perceived as outside the community of those who deserve recognition and protection. Moreover, while the social reproduction of upper-middle-class privileges has largely remained unchanged, there is a blurring of the symbolic boundaries separating the middle and working class as the latter has undergone strong individualization. Also, youth are now bearing the brunt of France's non-adaptation to changes in the economy and are increasingly marginalized. The result is a dramatic change in the overall contours of the French symbolic community, with a narrowed definition of cultural membership, and this, against a background of growing inequality, unemployment, and intolerance in a more open and deregulated labor market.

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Rainer Hillebrand

This article looks critically at the widely held view that Germany has not done enough to help overcome the Eurozone crisis. According to this line of argument, Germany has refused to comprehensively bail out crisis countries, offer mutual support in order to counter speculative attacks or endorse demand-side growth policies. This is allegedly because of a more narrowly defined national self-interest, increased EU-skepticism, and hegemonic ambitions. This article takes the perspective that such criticisms are primarily rooted in a Keynesian reading of the Eurozone troubles, whereas German policies are informed by another rationale: the ideas of so-called ordoliberalism. Generally, this traditional German school emphasizes the importance of principles, rule-based behavior, and long-term goals—and it believes in the (microeconomic) functioning of markets. Consequently, ordoliberals perceive the crisis as resulting from unsustainable debt levels and a lack of competitiveness in southern Europe, concomitant with a failure of Eurozone institutions. Based on this diagnosis, policy proposals are primarily targeted at debt reduction, as well as structural and EU institutional reforms. While Germany's crisis policy thus appears rational from an ordoliberal perspective, it is considered to be at variance with, and inadequate from the viewpoint of a Keynesian approach.