Updated Resources for Geographies of Austerity and Recession

As in previous years, I’m updating my reading list for the Newcastle Stage 2 module on Social Geographies (GEO2110) and am uploading the references and links here for ease of access, and so that others can use this too.

The usual disclaimer that I can’t cover everything here and I’m sure I’ve missed some great stuff. Please do let me know of things I can add. 

Previous versions of this list are accessible herehere, and here. Note that some of the links for the policy reports are broken but all of the reports are still available – you can Google the report titles and find the updated links.

New academic work (late 2015 or 2016)

(As more and more academic work has been published on austerity, I’ve focused more on the explicitly geographical work here, but there will be a lot of relevant work in the other social sciences too. If you have references to any other relevant work, please do let me know and I’ll add it – alison.stenning@ncl.ac.uk)

Bambra, C. (2016) Health Divides: Where You Live Can Kill You, Policy Press. (See also the supporting website: Health Divides.)

Brown, G. (2015) Marriage and the spare bedroom: Exploring the sexual politics of austerity, ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, 14(4), 975-988.

Garthwaite, K. (2016) Hunger Pains: Life inside Foodbank Britain, Policy Press. (See also a Guardian piece by Kayleigh which introduces some of the themes of her book.)

Garthwaite, K. (2016) Stigma, shame and ‘people like us’: an ethnographic study of foodbank use in the UK, Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, Fast Track.

Greer Murphy, A. (2016) Austerity in the United Kingdom: the intersections of spatial and gendered inequalities, Area, Early View.

Hall, S. M. (2016) Personal, relational and intimate geographies of austerity: ethical and empirical considerations, Area, Early View.

Hall, S. M., & Jayne, M. (2016) Make, mend and befriend: geographies of austerity, crafting and friendship in contemporary cultures of dressmaking in the UK, Gender, Place & Culture, 23(2), 216-234.

Hall, S. (2017) Family relations in times of austerity: Reflections from the UK, in Punch, S. and Vanderbeck, R. (eds.) Families, Intergenerationality, and Peer Group Relations: Geographies of Children and Young People (Vol. 5), Springer-Verlag (follow link from my blog)

Holdsworth, C. (2015) The cult of experience: standing out from the crowd in an era of austerity, Area, Early View.

Horton, J. (2015) Young people and debt: getting on with austerities, Area, Early View.

Horton, J. (2016) Anticipating service withdrawal: young people in spaces of neoliberalisation, austerity and economic crisis, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Early View.

Jupp, E. (2016) Families, policy and place in times of austerity, Area, Early View.

Lambie‐Mumford, H., & Green, M. A. (2015) Austerity, welfare reform and the rising use of food banks by children in England and Wales, Area, Early View.

McDowell, L. (2014) The sexual contract, youth, masculinity and the uncertain promise of waged work in austerity Britain, Australian Feminist Studies, 29(79), 31-49.

McDowell, L. (2016) Youth, children and families in austere times: change, politics and a new gender contract, Area, Early View.

Morse, N. and Munro, E. (2015) Museums’ community engagement schemes, austerity and practices of care in two local museum services, Social & Cultural Geography, 1-22.

Patrick, R. (2016) Living with and responding to the ‘scrounger’ narrative in the UK: exploring everyday strategies of acceptance, resistance and deflection, Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, Fast Track.

Power, A. (2016) Disability, (auto) mobility and austerity: shrinking horizons and spaces of refuge, Disability & Society, 31(2), 280-284.

Williams, A., Cloke, P., May, J., & Goodwin, M. (2016) Contested space: The contradictory political dynamics of food banking in the UK, Environment and Planning A, Online Before Print.


The Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University recently completed a research project on The Uneven Impact of Welfare Reform. The final report is available to download here and a series of maps here.

Amy Greer Murphy, a Geography PhD student at Durham, has compiled this list on Austerity & Welfare Reform in UK.



Film, TV and Radio

Ken Loach’s new film, I, Daniel Blake, focuses on austerity and welfare reform and is set in Newcastle. It won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. There’s a trailer here, and you can find numerous reviews online. It opens in cinemas on October 21st. The synopsis explains:

“Daniel Blake, 59, who has worked as a joiner most of his life in the North East of England needs help from the State for the first time ever following an illness. He crosses paths with a single mother Katie and her two young children, Daisy and Dylan. Katie’s only chance to escape a one roomed homeless hostel in London is to accept a flat some 300 miles away. Daniel and Katie find themselves in no-man’s land caught on the barbed wire of welfare bureaucracy now played out against the rhetoric of ‘striver and skiver’ in modern day Britain.”

The Divide tells the story of 7 individuals striving for a better life in the modern day US and UK, including a care worker from Newcastle. The film is inspired by the book The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. There are screenings across the UK over the coming months – nothing planned for Newcastle at the moment.

BBC Panorama produced a film about cuts in Selby, North Yorkshire, called Living with Cuts: Austerity Town. You can watch it here. There’s a BBC News article about it here.


Recent reports

The Women’s Budget Group have produced “A cumulative gender impact assessment of ten years of austerity policies” (March 2016).

A NatCen British Social Attitudes report on “Britain Divided? Public Attitudes after Seven Years of Austerity” (June 2016).

The British Medical Association‘s report on “Health in All Policies: Health, Austerity and Welfare Reform” (August 2016).

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation‘s report on Falling Short: The Experience of Families below the Minimum Income Standard; they estimate that 1 in 3 UK families lives below the Minimum Income Standard.

In June 2016, there was considerable media coverage of a United Nations report deemed to be a damning indictment of the UK’s austerity policies, declaring them to be a human rights violation. You can see reports here from The New StatesmanThe Independent and from Just Fair, the consortium of social justice organisations who submitted evidence to the UN. And there are many others which you can search for.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies reported in May 2016 that “Brexit could add two years to austerity“. If you search for IFS, Brexit and austerity, you’ll find various accounts of the report and its findings.


Austerity and recession in the North East

For GEO2110 Social Geographies first assessment, these are the links to the ‘storified’ tweets from 2014. You can find the Twitter account for the module @geo2110NCL.