Sociology Seminar Wed 25 January 2012

Published: 16 January 2012

Professor Kevin Doogan: 'The Crisis, Austerity and Precarity'

Professor Kevin Doogan (University of Bristol)
The Crisis, Austerity and Precarity
4.30pm, Room 916, Adam Smith Building

The paper will offer some big picture perspectives on the economic crisis and its impact on the labour market. This is a global crisis but its impact is highly differentiated which demands that analysis focuses on its transmission mechanisms and also explores the pattern of adjustment. Secondly, the discursive construction of the sovereign debt crisis changes the institutional landscape and the policy response, reconfiguring the problematique and confining solutions to the realm of fiscal consolidation and austerity.  The paper argues that the labour market does not passively reflect changed economic circumstances, but acts as both conductor and insulator in relation economic pressures. It is suggested that there are two interrelated dynamics in relation to the labour market which can be considered as productive and reproductive which must be factored into any analysis of fiscal consolidation and labour market outcomes. This crisis can be usefully compared and contrasted with the 1980s and 1930s and it appears at this point that the Great Recession will be distinguished, less by its depth in respect of unemployment, and more by its duration and weakness of recovery. It also offers new patterns of adjustment which will not be confined to jobs but extends to a broader range of reforms including pay, benefits and pensions. These tend to offer savings in the medium to long term and will serve to generalise the impact of fiscal consolidation and promote resistance across the public sector workforce. In these circumstances it is striking that debates in some circles have recently entertained the idea of a ‘precariat’ as a new class with a distinct set of insecurities and distinct set of interests, seemingly cut off from the broader working class. The paper will finish with brief reflections on the crisis and precarity.   

All Welcome

Supported by the McFie Bequest

Any enquiries about the seminar programme should be addressed to:
Dr Kirsteen Paton, Sociology, Adam Smith Building, University of Glasgow G12 8RT
Tel: 0141 330 5070 or email:

First published: 16 January 2012