Nostalgia and Austerity, or, the never-ending dream of excess

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The article is an attempt to examine the trasformation of the neoliberal ideology of consumption that has taken place since the onset of the global recesion. The first section is an examination of Marx's account of the antagonisms inheren in classical economic theories of happiness, desire, and prosperity, and how these have been intensified in the neoliberal culture of consumption. The second section analyses the the present condition of class and identity that the UK Conservative Party has called 'Broken Britain'. Specifically, the article looks at the relationship between the culture of 'chance' that has crystallized into the discursive and aesthetic figure of 'the underclass', and and the forms of ressentiment that are its ideological counterpart. The final section examines the significance of this configuration of the prudent and profligate, the decent and the obscene, for the possibility of social and political change.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)23-37
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012


  • Austerity, Culture, underclass, Marxism, Broken Britiain


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