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.

Updated and Consolidated List of References and Links on the Social Geographies (Broadly Defined) of Recession and Austerity

Because of the very contemporary nature of these issues, much of the best material on the social geographies (broadly defined) of recession and austerity is only beginning to be formally published, but much is accessible through newspaper columns and blogs, both by academics and by others.

Previous versions of this list are accessible here and here, but I hope I’ve included all I’ve previously referenced in this updated and consolidated list.

This page doesn’t look very pretty – I may tidy it up sometime, but I think, at least, all the links work. Let me know (alison.stenning@ncl.ac.uk) if they don’t – and let me know if you know of publications I could add. Thanks!

There’s an article about some ‘austerity’ blogs here: http://www.theguardian.com/media/shortcuts/2013/jul/07/rise-and-rise-of-austerity-blog

These are some of the most interesting, and some other links that document the experience of austerity in the UK today.

Geographer Danny Dorling writes widely about inequality, poverty, and most recently, austerity. Search his most recent publications here: http://www.dannydorling.org

http://agirlcalledjack.com – Blog by Jack Monroe who has published particularly about food and food poverty; her Guardian columns (and recipes!) are available here: http://www.theguardian.com/profile/jack-monroe

http://katebelgrave.com – “Talking with people dealing with public sector cuts”. Kate Belgrave’s Guardian columns are here: http://www.theguardian.com/profile/kate-belgrave

http://mumvausterity.blogspot.co.uk – Bernadette Horton, “a mum of 4 fighting everyday battles against austerity – and hoping to win!”

From Guardian Witness, personal accounts (https://witness.theguardian.com/assignment/52933b6ee4b0fc237c3f02c9) and Patrick Butler’s Cuts Blog (http://www.theguardian.com/society/patrick-butler-cuts-blog).

Patrick Butler is The Guardian’s editor of society, health and education policy. His articles can be found here: http://www.theguardian.com/profile/patrickbutler.

The Telegraph’s ‘Recession Tour” of 2008: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/recession/uk-recession-telegraph-tour/

The journalist Mary O’Hara’s book Austerity Bites ”chronicles the true impact of austerity on people at the sharp end, based on her ‘real-time’ 12-month journey around the country just as the most radical reforms were being rolled out in 2012 and 2013” (http://www.austeritybitesuk.com/). Her Guardian page (http://www.theguardian.com/profile/maryohara) has links to all sorts of different articles on related issues (welfare, legal aid, disability, mental health etc.). You can also find her discussing “Austerity Economies and Mental Health” on Madness Radio http://www.madnessradio.net/austerity-economies-and-mental-health-mary-ohara-madness-radio/


In addition, there are numerous policy and charity reports on the effects and experiences of austerity and recession.

The Centre for Human Rights Practice at Warwick University has compiled a very comprehensive list of “Reports on the Impact of Public Spending Cuts on Different Disadvantaged Groups within the UK” which can be found here

Others include:

Real Life Reform – “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” – there are six reports available here: http://www.northern-consortium.org.uk/reallifereform

The Association of North East Council’s report on The Impact of Welfare Reform in the North East: http://www.northeastcouncils.gov.uk/curo/downloaddoc.asp?id=601

Voices of Britainhttp://voicesofbritain.com – “A Snapshot of the Condition of Britain in 2013” from the Institute of Public Policy Research

The Family and Parenting Institute’s work on Families in the Age of Austerity: http://www.familyandparenting.org/our_work/Families-in-the-Age-of-Austerity/Family+Matters.htm

The charity Gingerbread has research the effect of austerity on single parents in a project called Paying the price: Single parents in the age of austerity (http://www.gingerbread.org.uk/content/1813/Paying-the-price).

Relate and a range of other organisations produced a report on Relationships, Recession and Recovery: The role of relationships in generating social recovery (http://www.relate.org.uk/policy-campaigns/publications/relationships-recession-and-recovery-role-relationships-generating-social-recovery)

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: http://wbg.org.uk/pdfs/NEWN-impact-of-austerity-measures-case-study-(June-2013)-.pdf

Other sites/organisations include the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Shelter, Poverty and Social Exclusion (http://www.poverty.ac.uk) and the New Economics Foundation. Search for these online and see what you can find.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has continued to analyse the reform of welfare budgets, including in this report on living standards: http://www.jrf.org.uk/publication/will-2015-summer-budget-improve-living-standards-2020.

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


There is a useful summary of the 2012 reforms here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welfare_Reform_Act_2012.

Other summaries can be found here:

The government: https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/simplifying-the-welfare-system-and-making-sure-work-pays

Child Poverty Action Group: http://www.cpag.org.uk/sites/default/files/CPAG_factsheet_the%20cuts_May13.pdf

Local Government Information Unit: http://www.lgiu.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Welfare-Reform-Act-20121.pdf

Some of the emerging academic and related work…

Allen, K., Tyler, I. and De Benedictis, S. (2014). Thinking with ‘White Dee’: The gender politics of ‘austerity porn’, Sociological Research Online, 19/3, http://www.socresonline.org.uk/19/3/2.html.

Atkinson, W., Roberts, S. & Savage, M. (eds.) (2012) Class Inequality in Austerity Britain, Palgrave MacMillan: Basingstoke. (The first chapter is available to download here: http://www.palgrave.com/PDFs/9781137016379.pdf)

Bailey, N., Bramley, G. and Hastings, A. (2015) Symposium Introduction: Local responses to ‘austerity’, Local Government Studies, ahead-of-print.

Bambra C. (2013) ‘All in it together’? Health inequalities, austerity and the ‘Great Recession’, Health in Austerity, Demos: London. http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/healthinausterity [see also a brief report at http://classonline.org.uk/blog/item/paying-the-highest-price-austerity-will-accelerate-area-health-inequalities]

Bambra, C. and Garthwaite, K. (2015) Austerity, welfare reform and the English health divide, Area, 47/3, 341-343.

Beatty, C. and Fothergill, S. (2013) Hitting the Poorest Places Hardest: The Local and Regional Impact of Welfare Reform, http://www.shu.ac.uk/research/cresr/sites/shu.ac.uk/files/hitting-poorest-places-hardest_0.pdf

Brown, G. (2013) The revolt of aspirations: contesting neoliberal social hope, ACME http://www.acme-journal.org/vol12/Brown2013.pdf

Clayton, J., Donovan, C. and Merchant, J. (2015) Distancing and limited resourcefulness: Third sector service provision under austerity localism in the north east of England, Urban Studies, ahead-of-print.

Clayton, J., Donovan, C. and Merchant, J. (2015) Emotions of austerity: Care and commitment in public service delivery in the North East of England, Emotion, Space and Society, 14, 24-32.

Copeland, A., Kasim, A. and Bambra, C. (2015). Grim up North or Northern grit? Recessions and the English spatial health divide (1991–2010). Journal of Public Health, 37/1, 34-39.

Crossley, S. and Slater, T. (2014) Articles: Benefits Street: territorial stigmatisation and the realization of a ‘(tele)vision of divisions’, Values and Value Blog, https://values.doc.gold.ac.uk/blog/18/.

Donald, B., Glasmeier, A., Gray, M. and Lobao, L. (2014) Austerity in the city: economic crisis and urban service decline? Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 7/1, 3-15.

Dowler, E. and Lambie-Mumford, H. (2014) Rising use of “food aid” in the United Kingdom, British Food Journal, 116/9, 1418-1425.

Dowler, E. and Lambie-Mumford, H. (2015) How can households eat in austerity? Challenges for social policy in the UK, Social Policy and Society, 14/3, 417-428.

Dowler, E. and Lambie-Mumford, H. (2015) Introduction: Hunger, food and social policy in austerity, Social Policy and Society, 14/3, 411-415.

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.

Garthwaite, K., Collins, P. and Bambra, C. (2015) Food for thought: An ethnographic study of negotiating ill health and food insecurity in a UK foodbank, Social Science & Medicine, 132, 38-44.

Hall, S. M. (2015) Everyday ethics of consumption in the austere city, Geography Compass, 9/3, 140-151.

Hall, S. M. (2015). Everyday family experiences of the financial crisis: getting by in the recent economic recession. Journal of Economic Geography, online first.

Hall, S. M. and Jayne, M. (2015) Make, mend and befriend: geographies of austerity, crafting and friendship in contemporary cultures of dressmaking in the UK, Gender, Place & Culture, ahead-of-print.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Jensen, T. (2014). Welfare commonsense, poverty porn and doxosophy, Sociological Research Online, 19/3, http://www.socresonline.org.uk/19/3/3.html.

Jensen, T. and Tyler, I. (2013) Austerity parenting: New economies of parent citizenship, Studies in the Maternal, 4/2 http://www.mamsie.bbk.ac.uk/back_issues/4_2/editorial.html

Jensen, T. and Tyler, I. (2015) ‘Benefits broods’: The cultural and political crafting of anti-welfare commonsense, Critical Social Policy, online first.

Jones, G., Meegan, R., Kennett, P. and Croft, J. (2015) The uneven impact of austerity on the voluntary and community sector: A tale of two cities, Urban Studies, ahead-of-print.

Kennett, P., Jones, G., Meegan, R. and Croft, J. (2015) “Recession, austerity and the ‘Great Risk Shift’: Local government and household impacts and responses in Bristol and Liverpool, Local Government Studies, ahead-of-print.

[The two papers above, and Meegan et al (2014) below, come from a research project on “The uneven impact of recession on cities and households: Bristol and Liverpool compared”. More details and publications can be found here: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/sps/esrcunevenimpact/. Their website has links to a range of background documents, including a review of ‘grey literatures’ on the “Impact of the Recession and Period of Austerity on Households”, http://www.bris.ac.uk/sps/esrcunevenimpact/findingssofar/otherpapers.html.]

Koch, I. (2014) ‘A policy that kills’: The bedroom tax is an affront to basic rights, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/a-policy-that-kills-the-bedroom-tax-is-an-affront-to-basic-rights/

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

Lambie-Mumford, H. and Jarvis, D. (2012) The role of faith-based organisations in the Big Society: opportunities and challenges, Policy Studies, 33/3, 249-262.

Loopstra, R., et al. (2015) Austerity, sanctions, and the rise of food banks in the UK.” British Medical Journal h1775. http://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h1775.short

MacDonald, R., Shildrick, T. and Furlong, A. (2014). ‘Benefits Street’ and the myth of workless communities, Sociological Research Online, 19/3, http://www.socresonline.org.uk/19/3/1.html.

Meegan, R., Kennett, P., Jones, G. and Croft, J. (2014) Global economic crisis, austerity and neoliberal urban governance in England, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 7/1, 137-153.

O’Hara, M. (2014) Austerity Bites: A Journey to the Sharp End of Cuts in the UK, Policy Press: Bristol.

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

Purdam, K., Garratt, E. and Esmail, A. (2015) Hungry? Food insecurity, social stigma and embarrassment in the UK, Sociology, ahead of print.

Ridge, T. (2013) ‘We are all in this together’? The hidden costs of poverty, recession and austerity policies on Britain’s poorest children, Children & Society, 27/5, 406-417.

Schrecker, T. and Bambra, C. (2015) How Politics Makes Us Sick: Neoliberal Epidemics, Palgrave Macmillan: London.

Schrecker, T. and Bambra, C. (2015) Neoliberal epidemics: the spread of austerity, obesity, stress and inequality, The Conversation, http://theconversation.com/neoliberal-epidemics-the-spread-of-austerity-obesity-stress-and-inequality-46416

Slater, T. (2011) From ‘criminality’ to marginality: Rioting against a broken state, Human Geography, 4/3, http://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/geography/homes/tslater/RiotingAgainstABrokenState.pdf

Slater, T. (2014) The myth of ‘Broken Britain’: welfare reform and the production of ignorance, Antipode 46/4, 948-969.

Stenning, A. (2013) The Costs of Austerity [blog post] https://blogs.ncl.ac.uk/alisonstenning/the-costs-of-austerity/

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) http://www.socresonline.org.uk/18/4/6.html

See also the themed issue of Critical Social Policy on “Social Policy in an Age of Austerity” in August 2012 (32/3)


As I start a new research project, I thought I’d start a blog too and see if and how it helps me to think about my research.

The project is funded by the Catherine Cookson Foundation at Newcastle University, where I work, and is focused on building a long-term, collaborative research relationship in and with communities in Cullercoats, North Tyneside.

In doing this, I’m hoping to explore how the personal relationships that shape communities (between family, friends, neighbours etc.) enable so-called ‘squeezed middle‘ households to negotiate social and economic challenges and achieve emotional and material security.

Both academic and more popular accounts of contemporary society suggest that the value of local, personal relationships (with, for example, family, friends and neighbours) is being reduced. Yet relationships remain at the heart of our everyday lives. They create an environment that ‘contains’ us, allows us to keep going and to tolerate stresses of various kinds, and the value of such relationships is increased, not decreased, at a time of economic crisis. Insecurity, vulnerability, loss and anxiety are experienced by many as they face the considerable economic, social and emotional challenges of austerity, and the contribution that local, personal relationships might make to weathering these challenges is a critical concern.

The effects of over four years of economic crisis have been widely felt but they have also been uneven, socially and geographically.

Socially, the so-called ‘squeezed middle’ has been identified as being particularly susceptible to ongoing crisis and cuts. Although definitions of this class are vague, the Resolution Foundation suggests that it consists nationally of some 6 million working, home-owning households with a gross income of £12-30,000. These households are not living in poverty but are increasingly insecure and vulnerable to the threat of labour market, cost-of-living, and tax and benefit changes.

Geographically, the UK’s northern regions, and in particular the North East, have been disproportionately affected by job loss, public sector cuts and pay squeezes.

Cullercoats can be seen as a very ‘average’ place socio-economically, with a significant number of ‘squeezed middle’ households: in the 2007 index of multiple deprivation, it ranked at 4505 (out of 8836) and in the 2001 census, 57% of the population were classified as social classes C1, C2 and D. It has a dense and long-standing network of community groups, reflecting its historical development as a port and fishing community, a relatively well-defined geography, and an existing relationship with the University, through the Dove Marine Laboratory.