This article investigates the manner in which anti-austerity protests constitute practical negations of capitalist legitimacy. The analysis is divided into three parts. The first part discusses the key issues at stake in contemporary anti-austerity protests, from capitalist legitimacy to collective forms of autonomy. The second part examines central sociological dimensions permeating the reality of austerity, from the power of the state, via the pervasive processes of commodification, to the emergence of a “new spirit of capitalism.” The third part reflects on the emancipatory potential of anti-austerity movements, arguing that they contribute to personal and social empowerment, as well as to radical democratization. The article suggests that the recent protests against austerity indicate that there is room not only for despair but also for hope.

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