Feminism and the Legitimisation of Austerity's Moral Project

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Vicki DABROWSKI, Middlesex University, United Kingdom
This paper focuses on how young middle-class women talk about feminism within the context of austerity, drawing on interviews with women in Leeds, London and Brighton during 2014 and 2015. Exploring austerity as a moral project, I argue that the way in which these women identify with, understand and discuss whom feminism is important for, converges with a range of values present in the UK austerity discourse. I call this particular type of feminism, ‘austerity-bourgeois feminism’. For these middle-class women - adopting certain characteristics of neoliberalism - ‘austerity-bourgeois feminism’ is taken up as a positive subject position, characterised by individualism, self-love and self-care. However, this feminism is distinctive since it is seen as necessary for other women who are at the receiving end of the austerity cuts to take on. Emphasising the need for self-care and self-responsibility to deal with forms of inequality, ‘austerity-bourgeois feminism’ helps to displace the current forces producing inequality by placing individual’s misfortunes into their own hands. Such feminism also serves as a way to create and reinforce distance and distinctions between those suffering within the current context and those who are not. This type of feminism therefore results in a perverse confluence with austerity discourses, reproducing and legitimising its principles.