Kirsten Forkert’s Austerity as Public Mood: Social Anxieties and Social Struggles makes a significant contribution to the recent cultural political project of understanding austerity and its effects as embodied and emotional. Forkert does this by conceptualizing austerity as a “public mood,” wherein social anxieties constitute a particular atmosphere that influences individuals’ daily lives. The book is informed by Lauren Berlant’s (2011: 10) assessment of “cruel optimism,” which contends that “affect is not only individual, it is social,” an argument that Forkert builds on in her own exploration of the shared, ambivalent emotions that austerity and anti-immigration discourses produce. In distinguishing her text from Berlant’s, Forkert states: “Rather than analyse cultural texts, I will discuss a range of examples within popular culture, policy and social movements” (10). She accomplishes this sizable task; the book spans a broad range of sources that Forkert weaves...

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