This is a wonderfully clear-sighted and necessary appraisal of how ‘austerity’ is not simply a series of policies but a cultural sensibility and public mood. Kirstin Forkert’s astute and multifaceted account simultaneously helps us understand how destructive austerity politics are garnering support whilst investigating and imagining ways they are - and could be - addressed and combated in practice.
This is an interesting and important book that helps to illuminate the particular constellation of ideas, values and practices that have marked the decade since financial crisis. Examining a range of cultural sites from ‘poverty porn’ television, to ‘inspirational’ messages, and from immigration policy to local activism against library closures, Kirsten Forkert makes a compelling case for considering austerity not only as an economic programme, nor simply an ideological position, but also as a psychosocial phenomenon built around mobilising affect to create a ‘public mood’. Thoughtful and inventive, this book will be of interest to anyone who cares about contemporary politics (in Britain).
The notion of austerity as mood is compelling. It helps explain how policies injurious to both the working and middle classes have come not only to seem acceptable but ‘right’, how these notions have come to shape thinking not just in macro-economic management but in the daily lives of citizens.
[Kirsten Forkert’s] focus on resistance is to be applauded. Unlike much work on neoliberalism, her focus on resistance feels like more than a postscript or an afterthought. She attends to the challenges of resisting amongst this mood of austerity—the ways in which austerity thinking changes logic, alters the rationality of those resisting to accept or settle for compromises that are far from ideal.
Kirsten Forkert’s Austerity as Public Mood: Social Anxieties and Social Struggles makes a significant contribution to the recent cultural political project of understanding austerity and its effects as embodied and emotional.… Austerity as Public Mood: Social Anxieties and Social Struggles is a rich tapestry of the multiple threads that combine to produce austerity as a lived and felt phenomenon. Forkert artfully disentangles these threads to make clear the cultural and political processes involved in the construction of the present atmosphere. In doing so, the book contributes to the wider wave of recent work that explores the affective and cultural dimensions of economic and social realities.