The Social Geographies of Recession and Austerity

In preparing for some undergraduate teaching, I’ve pulled together a preliminary bibliography of academic and other material on the social geographies of austerity and recession. It’s a fairly mixed bag of published journal articles, blogs and reports from charities, think tanks and other organisations. It’s far from comprehensive but it offers a starting point. Any suggestions, updates or other comments would be very welcome.

Some basic summaries of the key reforms introduced by the coalition government can be found here:


The government

Child Poverty Action Group

Local Government Information Unit

My Costs of Austerity blog post


Some really great blogs have emerged over the past few years as people have tried to document their own, and others’, struggles with austerity.  There’s an article about some of these blogs here.

These are some of the most interesting and/or prolific: – Blog by Jack Monroe who has published particularly about food and food poverty; her Guardian columns (and recipes) are available here: – “Talking with people dealing with public sector cuts”. Kate Belgrave’s Guardian columns are here: – Bernadette Horton, “a mum of 4 fighting everyday battles against austerity – and hoping to win!”

Most of these bloggers also tweet; you can find them and follow them for more updates and links to other bloggers.


Many of the major newspapers have developed sub-sections on their websites in which they document the effects of austerity from a number of perspectives.

On Guardian Witness, you can find personal accounts of families living in poverty; you follow the link to Guardian Witness from this page. The Guardian is also home to Patrick Butler’s Cuts Blog.

In 2008, The Telegraph’s went on a ‘Recession Tour‘ of a variety of UK localities.


Much of the material that ends up on the (web)pages of our national newspapers comes from a range of different projects launched by a variety of think tanks, lobby groups, charities and so on. The projects I’m highlighting here are ones which focus on the everyday experiences of recession and austerity in communities.

Real Life Reform is “an important and unique study that tracks over a period of 18 months how people are living and coping with welfare reforms across the North of England”. It has been developed by the Northern Housing Consortium with seven northern housing associations. There are two reports, one from September 2013 and another from December. A third report is due in the spring of 2014. You can follow Real Life Reform on Twitter @RealLifeReform.

The IPPR have developed a Voices of Britain website (, as a “snapshot of the condition of Britain in 2013”.

The Family and Parenting Institute’s work on Families in the Age of Austerity is another exploration of the effects of austerity on families.

The Campaign for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Working Group for the North East produced this report on the impact of austerity measures on women in the North East.

For an Irish perspective, have a look at – a blog written mostly by geographers on Ireland’s experience of financial crisis and austerity.


Some of the emerging academic work…

Atkinson, W., Roberts, S. & Savage, M. (eds.) (2012) Class Inequality in Austerity Britain, Palgrave MacMillan: Basingstoke. (The first chapter is available to download here).

Beatty, C. and Fothergill, S. (2013) Hitting the Poorest Places Hardest: The Local and Regional Impact of Welfare Reform.

Brown, G. (2013) The revolt of aspirations: contesting neoliberal social hope, ACME

Flaherty, J. and Banks, S. (2013) In whose interest? The dynamics of debt in poor households, Journal of Poverty & Social Justice, 21/3, 219-232.

Fraser, A., Murphy, E. and Kelly, S. (2013) Deepening neoliberalism via austerity and ‘reform’: The case of Ireland, Human Geography, 6, 38-53.

Hamnett, C. (2011) The reshaping of the British welfare system and its implications for geography and geographers, Progress in Human Geography, 35/2, 147-152.

Hamnett, C. (2013) Shrinking the welfare state: the structure, geography and impact of British government benefit cuts, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Early View Online.

Hamnett, C. (2010) Moving the poor out of central London? The implications of the coalition government 2010 cuts to Housing BenefitsEnvironment and Planning A, 42/12, 2809-2819.

Hancock, L. and Mooney, G. (2013) “Welfare ghettos” and the “Broken Society”: Territorial stigmatization in the contemporary UKHousing, Theory and Society, 30/1, 46-64.

Harrison, E. (2013) Bouncing back? Recession, resilience and everyday livesCritical Social Policy, 33/1, 97-113.

Hodkinson, S. and Robbins, G. (2013) The return of class war conservatism? Housing under the UK coalition governmentCritical Social Policy, 33/1, 57-77.

Jacobs, K. and Manzi, T. (2013) New localism, old retrenchment: The “Big Society”, housing policy and the politics of welfare reformHousing, Theory and Society, 30/1, 29-45.

Lambie-Mumford, H. (2013) ‘Every town should have one’: emergency food banking in the UKJournal of Social Policy, 42/1, 73-89.

Jensen, T. and Tyler, I. (2013) Austerity parenting: New economies of parent citizenship, Studies in the Maternal, 4/2  and a variety of other pieces on related themes:

Pearce, J. (2013) Commentary: Financial crisis, austerity policies, and geographical inequalities in health, Environment and Planning A, 45/9, 2030-2045.

Slater, T. (2012) The myth of ‘Broken Britain’: welfare reform and the production of ignorance, Antipode Early Online View.

Stuckler, D. and Basu, S. (2013) The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills, Basic Books.

Tyler, I. (2013) The riots of the underclass? Stigmatisation, mediation and the government of poverty and disadvantage in neoliberal Britain, Sociological Research Online, 18(4)  (This is part of a special issue of Sociological Research Online on Collisions, Coalitions and Riotous Subjects: Reflections, Repercussions and Reverberations).

There is a themed issue of Critical Social Policy on “Social Policy in an Age of Austerity” in August 2012 (32/3).