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Wasted Generations: New Cultural and Political Economies of Poverty and Stigma

Project: Non-funded ProjectProjects

25/03/13 → …

In the globalized world of the twenty-first century, economic polarization has reached unparalleled depths both in terms of the deepening inequalities within post-industrial nation-states and in terms of the staggering inequalities between the global North and the global South. In countries like Britain, which have ostensibly been the beneficiaries of the epochal shift from industrial to neoliberal modes of capitalism in the 1970s, neoliberal modes of governmentality have been unleashing caustic inequalities for some time – something Danny Dorling revealed in his startling statement that ‘[i]n Britain today chances in life are now more determined by where (and to whom) they were born as compared to any other date in the last 651 years’ (Dorling 2007: 5). While many accounts of neoliberalism concentrate on ‘thin economic conceptions of neoliberalism as market rule’ (Wacquant 2010: 197) this research project, Wasted Generations: New Cultural and Political Economies of Poverty and Stigma, is concerned with developing thick empirical accounts of neoliberalism as a form of governance – concentrating in particular on developing scholarly understandings of the mechanisms through which public consent is procured for policies and practices that effect inequalities and fundamentally corrode democracy.

In 2010 I was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship and the major outcome of this fellowship was a ground-breaking monograph Revolting Subjects: Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain (London: Zed, 2013), two special journal issues ‘Austerity Parenting’ (2013) Studies in the Maternal, and ‘Immigrant Protest’ (2013), Citizenship Studies and an edited book Immigrant Protest: Politics, Aesthetics, and Everyday Dissent (SUNY, forthcoming). Alongside this fellowship and in addition to my everyday work as a lecturer, I have been working on a series of funded projects since 2010 with colleagues in the UK and USA, including an ESRC-funded research project: Making Asylum Seekers Legible and Visible: An Analysis of the Dilemmas and Mitigating Strategies of Asylum Advocacy in the UK and US (2010-2012) and an ESRC seminar series ‘Exploring Everyday Practice and Resistance in Immigration Detention’ (2013-2015). Through this funded research and publications I have begun to develop a rich psycho-social account of the ways in which stigmatization operates as a form of governance that legitimates the reproduction and entrenchment of inequalities and injustices.

This project will extend and develop this work through a major large-scale project on poverty, stigma and inequality. This transnational project would extend my existing research on stigma and poverty in Britain to other national settings in the global north and south (including Asia and Africa). It would examine the impact the emergence of new cultural and political economies of poverty and stigma in a range of different local settings and in a range of registers, including government policy, local policy and services, and media cultures. This project would focus on three interlinked areas/populations: 1) young people, unemployment and workfare regimes 2) disability, welfare and hate crime and 3) irregular migrants and disciplinary citizenship regimes.

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