Narratives of Difference in an Age of Austerity

Dr Irene Gedalof’s new publication explores the narratives underpinning UK austerity policies and their impact on inequalities of gender, race and disability.

Date: 21 November 2017

Dr Irene Gedalof, a senior lecturer in Sociology BSc at London Metropolitan University, has had her latest work published.

Published by Palgrave Macmillan, Narratives of Difference in an Age of Austerity looks at the ways in which a range of social policies developed by the Coalition government (2010-15), including equality policy, welfare reform, migration and integration policies, became part of the austerity agenda, and how they deal with differences of gender, race and disability.

Dr Gedalof said: “I wrote this book to answer two questions: how is consensus built for policies that have such negative consequences for so many people, and how does the story being told about the need for austerity reinforce inequalities? Looking carefully at how the narrative about austerity works, how the formal qualities of narrative operate in policy documents and political discourse, can help us understand both of these questions.”

While many have criticised the ways in which austerity has captured the contemporary political narrative, this is the first book to systematically examine how these narratives work to shift the terms within which policy debates about inequality and difference play out, and their political consequences for women, racialised minorities and disabled people.

The publication has been reviewed by Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya, author of Crisis, Austerity and Everyday Life and Professor of Sociology at the University of East London. She said the book is “an urgent reminder of how policy seeks to make us 'feel' there is no way out from inequality and injustice. The narrative of austerity may be changing, but the technique remains. Read this to understand how popular emotion can become a tool of the state, because if we see it we can change it.”

Dr Irene Gedalof is a senior lecturer based in the School of Social Sciences, teaching in the areas of gender studies, sociology and social policy. Her publications and research interests are in the areas of identity, power and female embodiment, the intersections of gender, race and ethnicity in feminist theory, and gender and migration.