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Thinking with White Dee: the gender politics of austerity porn

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>08/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Sociological Research Online
Issue number3
Volume19
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Focusing on Benefits Street, and specifically the figure of White Dee, this rapid response article offers a feminist analysis of the relationship between media portrayals of people living with poverty and the gender politics of austerity. To do this we locate and unpick the paradoxical desires coalescing in the making and remaking of the figure of 'White Dee' in the public sphere. We detail how Benefits Street operates through forms of classed and gendered shaming to generate public consent for the government's welfare reform. However, we also examine how White Dee functions as a potential object of desire and figure of feminist resistance to the transformations in self and communities engendered by neoliberal social and economic policies. In this way, we argue that these public struggles over White Dee open up spaces for urgent feminist sociological enquiries into the gender politics of care, labour and social reproduction.