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Dramatising austerity: holding a story together (and why it falls apart...)

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ruth Raynor



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


A group of women in the North East of England; women getting on and getting by amidst austerity. But what does austerity become for these women? How does it surface and register in their everyday lives through a series of fragmented encounters? Together, we developed a fictional play to explore how austerity acted in the midst of other things. Effects ranged from the un-dramatic to the intense – from an empty flowerbed at the end of the street to service closure and a loss of support. How then to ‘evoke’ austerity in this article and through the narrative form of a play? Does austerity become atmospheric like smog – something cold and wet settled over the place? Like a coercive character making demands she cannot meet? Or a particular pattern of relations between event and effect: a plot that falls apart? Our attempts at dramatisation revealed austerity’s fracturing and dissonance. Austerity sapped women’s energy to flourish through existing attachments to one another, to family life and to other forms of unpaid care; it made promises it couldn’t keep; it disorientated. As austerity differently met and co-constituted the lives of women, it disrupted opportunity for collective experience so that even austerity was not commonly encountered. In that context, I work through the play and the process in its development to explore what we held together and what continued to fall apart. Story then works hard in this article. It becomes a promise of momentum towards resolution, an affective mechanism that organises lives in the chaos after financial crisis, a longed-for form for a coproduced play and a theory that might make some sense of why anti-austerity imaginaries were not coherently attached to at least by women in this process.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Raynor R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cultural Geographies

Year: 2017

Volume: 24

Issue: 2

Pages: 193-212

Print publication date: 01/04/2017

Online publication date: 26/10/2016

Acceptance date: 22/09/2016

Date deposited: 22/03/2017

ISSN (print): 1474-4740

ISSN (electronic): 1477-0881

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/1474474016675564


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