Encountering austerity in deprived urban neighbourhoods: local geographies and the emergence of austerity in the lifeworld of urban youth

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van Lanen, Sander
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Elsevier Ltd.
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Lived experiences of austerity implemented in response to the 2008 financial crisis receive increasing attention in geographic scholarship. This paper adds to this literature by investigating the role of urban geographies in encounters of austerity and spatially differentiated austerity experiences. It combines the lifeworld and assemblage thinking to consider the avenues through which austerity reaches into the lifeworld of disadvantaged urban youth in Ireland. This paper builds on qualitative interviews with young adults, aged 18–25, living in two disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Cork and Dublin. The combination of youth’s vulnerability to austerity and the implementation of a fierce austerity regime in Ireland make this population suitable to reveal dynamics otherwise more subtly present. The interviews suggest that the three most important spheres of austerity emergence for disadvantaged urban youth – the household, work and social welfare, and the neighbourhood – are shaped by the micro-geographies of the neighbourhood and their embeddedness in the wider urban context. It is thus argued that austerity’s emergence is spatially contingent and depends on the neighbourhood’s embeddedness in local social and urban geographies such as institutional penetration, costs of living, labour market conditions, and histories of policy intervention. This leads to the conclusion that lifeworld colonisation by systemic imperatives, of which austerity is considered a symptom, is path-dependent and relates to previously existing social, economic, political and cultural contexts. To understand the spatially and socially variegated creation of austerity worlds thus requires critical interrogation of the interaction between local urban geographies and higher-scale complexes of austerity.
Austerity , Lifeworld , Ireland , Young people , Recession , Everyday life
van Lanen, S. (2018) ‘Encountering austerity in deprived urban neighbourhoods: local geographies and the emergence of austerity in the lifeworld of urban youth’, Geoforum. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.11.011