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 together in an effort to identify...
Emma Craddock is a teaching fellow in the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of Warwick. She was awarded her PhD in sociology, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, in 2017 by the University of Nottingham; her dissertation is titled “Emotion and Gender in Local Anti-austerity Activist Cultures.”
Emma Craddock; Feeling Austere. Cultural Politics 1 November 2018; 14 (3): 413–415. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-7093542
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