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John D. Bone
Sociological Research Online 14 (2) 11
Keywords: 'Credit Crunch\', Neo-Liberalism, Financialisation, Housing Bubble, the \'Great Crash\', \'Gekkoisation\'
Abstract: This paper offers a broad overview and analysis of some of the main causes and consequences of the current economic crisis. While attempting to flag up some of the key continuities between the conditions contributing to the current crisis and those that produced the 'great crash' of 1929, it is argued that the 'credit crunch' must be understood in broad historical context. Specifically, it is suggested that the turn to neo-liberal economics in the late 1970's, principally in the UK and US, restored many of the structures and socio-economic characteristics that were prevalent in the 1920's, inevitably producing a highly similar outcome. Overall, it is argued that the (re)financialisation of the economy, the deregulation of markets, together with the cultivation of a culture of rampant individualism and acquisition, pervading the markets and wider society, have coalesced to sow the seeds of reckless profit seeking that have led to the current crisis. Moreover, given that latter, it is suggested that the current upheaval is as much a reflection of social and cultural decay as it is a failure of economic governance.
Sociological Research Online 14 (4) 5
Keywords: Gramsci; Ideology; Neoliberalism; Financialisation; Transformismo; War of Position; Crisis; Hegemony
Abstract: Many accounts of the rise and decline of neoliberalism forefront its ideological nature and capacity for hegemonic leadership. In contrast, I argue that outside of elite groups neoliberalism did not become hegemonic in Gramsci's sense of a 'national-popular' force. Neoliberalism is a convenient term to describe a two-stage process of 'purifying' the coercive nature of the capital relation through what Gramsci broadly called 'a war of movement' in the 1970s and 1980s and 'a war of position' in the 1990s and 2000s. This double-movement compelled credit-worthy individuals to routinely market, sell, purchase and perform for money-wages. New techniques of the self were perfected in the marketised war of position to service the credit-led financialisation of everyday life. Social positionings dependent on financialisation are now subject to a 'crisis of authority'.
Robin James Smith, Jesse Heley and Ian Stafford
Sociological Research Online 16 (1) 10
Keywords: Recession, 'Credit Crunch', Community, Economy, the High-Street, Welsh Assembly Government, Woolworths, Consumption
Abstract: In this paper we present a multi-dimensional analysis of the closure of Woolworths in Wales and the way in which the loss of this familiar high-street brand can be accounted for at a number of levels and within different social arenas. Primarily, the paper demonstrates how Woolworths is positioned as a symbol a previous era of consumption centred upon community and place based notions of nostalgia and community. What is striking in the analysis is the similarities in the way in which Woolworths is mobilised as a symbol by the general public and elites; albeit with varying outcomes and affects. In presenting the analysis the paper demonstrates a processual framing as providing a fruitful approach to the combination of different approaches and fields of inquiry (sociology, geography, and political science) without diminishing their distinct contributions.
Sociological Research Online 17 (3) 1
Keywords: Economic Inequality, Neo-Liberalism, Egalitarianism, Emotions
Abstract: People's emotional and political responses to economic inequality are shaped by their beliefs about and interpretations of that inequality. Drawing on a series of group interviews with a total of 110 11 - 16 year olds across eight schools I show that participants spoke about economic inequality in terms of rich and poor, but tended to place themselves in the middle of the income distribution. Despite this self-placement, they often felt very strongly about experiences where economic inequality was visible in consumption patterns. Participants interpreted economic inequality using ideas of neo-liberal meritocracy to explain that the existence of economic inequality was the fair result of different skills or effort among the rich and the poor. But at the same time they used a more egalitarian interpretation to claim that that rich and poor were the 'same kind of people' and that luck played a great part in the different levels of wealth and possessions. This led them to argue that everyone should be treated the same and granted the same respect, regardless of whether they were rich or poor. These egalitarian sentiments were also drawn on to propose strategies to minimise situations where rich and poor might be treated differently, or to manage the difficult feelings and lack of respect that participants associated with situations of economic inequality. These proposals did not challenge the existence of economic inequality, but focussed on the justice of how people with different levels of wealth or possessions should be treated.