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Feeling the Squeeze: Towards a Psychosocial Geography of Austerity in Low-to-Middle Income Families

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alison Stenning



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


This paper seeks to explore the experiences of austerity in low-to-middle income households in North Tyneside. To try to make sense of the diverse and intimate ways that austerity is thought about, felt, related to, engaged with, and contested, the paper connects a psychosocial perspective to a focus on everyday social geographies and insists on the relation between the psychic and the social. It starts by exploring the coordinates of a psychosocial geography, outlining and building on the growing work in psychosocial studies and connecting this to an explicitly geographical perspective. It then sets out the focus of this particular study – low-to-middle income families in North Tyneside – placing them in the narrative context of the squeezed middle, both sketching the demographic outlines of this cohort and interpreting the squeezed middle as a psychosocial category. At this stage, it also describes and reflects on the research process, one designed to access the psychosocial dimensions of living with austerity. The focus then shifts to narrating and exploring the researched households’ experiences of austerity, framing them through a focus on ‘big things’ and ‘little things’, following the language and sense-making of my participants, and at every stage engaging with the psychosocial aspects of these experiences, attachments, values, practices, spaces, senses and times that need to be understood by holding together the psychic and the social. These experiences are drawn together in a discussion section which attempts to map the psychosocial landscapes of austerity and which concludes by making connections to wider psychosocial framings that signpost further explorations.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stenning A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geoforum

Year: 2020

Volume: 110

Pages: 200-210

Print publication date: 01/03/2020

Online publication date: 06/10/2018

Acceptance date: 26/09/2018

Date deposited: 01/10/2018

ISSN (print): 0016-7185

ISSN (electronic): 1872-9398

Publisher: Elsievier


DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.09.035


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