Introduction: The Violence of Austerity

Cooper, Vickie and Whyte, David (2017). Introduction: The Violence of Austerity. In: Cooper, Vickie and Whyte, David eds. The Violence of Austerity. Pluto Press, pp. 1–34.



One decade after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and seven years since the Coalition government first rolled out a suite of public sector cuts it described as austerity measures, public sector cuts continue to devastate communities. The contributions gathered in this book collectively present evidence showing that people most affected by austerity cuts are not only struggling under the financial strain but are becoming ill, physically and emotionally, and many are dying. As well as pointing the finger at political leaders responsible for designing the policies that target marginal and vulnerable populations, we focus attention on the assemblage of bureaucracies and institutions through which austerity policies are made real. The various chapters identify the politicians, the public and private servants and the institutions responsible for the violence of austerity and set out, in no uncertain terms, to demonstrate how these people and organisations have harmed key marginal groups whose welfare they are ultimately responsible for. Before turning our attention to this task, this introduction will explore in detail what is meant by ‘austerity’ and how it has been used to legitimise a political process that we argue has comprehensively reshaped our relationship with government and the public sector.

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