This article discusses the European wave of contention catalysed by the financial market crash of 2008/9 and the subsequent imposition of austerity measures by governments across the continent. It develops two central arguments. First, it argues that we need a clearer and more sharply differentiated understanding of the operation of austerity as a social and political phenomenon than can be accounted for by reading the crisis of austerity as a solely material set of grievances. Second, it dissociates austerity into a series of interconnected regimes, which are fiscal, ideological, political and civic. In so doing, I show how the material aspects of austerity are intimately tied to the ideational, institutional and spatial enclosures they create, enabling us to see more clearly how the practice of austerity is intimately tied to the progressive dismantling of collective democratic space. The transformative potential of anti-austerity mobilizations accordingly lies in their capacity to develop an alternative moral economy grounded in new forms of solidarity and sociability, whether in workplaces or in the civic squares.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Social Movement Studies on 21/12/16, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/14742837.2016.1252669Keywords