Posted on February 18, 2014 by Administrator
Title: ‘Thrifty mothers, skivers/strivers and the cultural politics of wanting’
Date: Thursday, April 10 2014
Venue: Foundation Building, F1030
Speaker: Dr Tracey Jensen
The erosion of the universal welfare state and the post-war social contract has continued at a brisk pace since the forming of the Coalition government, but post-austerity these erosions are overlaid with a new moral imperative around ‘thrift’ and its virtues, embrace the challenge of ‘doing more with less’, finding ways to live on, and thrive, in a time of increasing precarity and contingency. ‘Thrift’ has been embraced, governmentally and individually, as a moral orientation which can cure us of our profligacy and our spendthrift habits. In particular it is women – and more specifically mothers – who are compelled, invited and required to become the desirable thrifty subject. Consequently the figures of failure, waste, excess and indiscipline are also powerfully gendered – and held up as evidence of a bloated welfare state. This lecture examines the ‘cruel optimism’ (Berlant, 2011) of thrift, the futures it tantalisingly promises, the consoling and constructed national nostalgias that it animates and the pathologies it (re)circulates about the ‘wrong’ kind of family consumption. In particular this paper explores the potency of gender in both the re-invention of divisive moral categories of worth, and in popular resistance to the austerity project.