austerity, financial crisis, welfare retrenchment, inequality, instability, insecurity
This chapter focuses on the adverse conditions austerity creates for welfare states. It contends that austerity cannot be condensed into a singular (economic) phenomenon; the term hosts multiple meanings and is inherently connected with intersecting political, cultural and moral economic contexts in which welfare states now operate, including globalization, financialization and neoliberalism. The chapter concentrates on these intersections through the lens of austerity capitalism and situates the current post-Great Financial Crisis austerity challenges within the longer evolution of austerity capitalism since the 1970s. In this context it suggests that welfare states are characterized neither by wholesale dismantlement nor by resilience, but continue to be reconfigured by the contemporary dynamics of debt and (re)financialization that mark new types of permanent austerity and instability.