‘We're reaping what we sowed’ : everyday crisis narratives and acquiescence to the age of austerity

Liam Stanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


The British public have seemingly accepted the inevitability of the Coalition-government's ambitious fiscal consolidation plan despite the fact that it may harm many. In this context of general acquiescence, many existing accounts appeal to elites: notably, how the narration of a Debt Crisis has rendered the ‘age of austerity’ as both a logical and common-sense response to the UK ‘living beyond its means’ in the pre-crisis years. Utilising the notion that elite-driven crisis narratives must resonate with the ‘mood of the times’, this paper analyses non-elite crisis narratives. Specifically, it looks at how homeowners from middle-class neighbourhoods justify fiscal consolidation – drawing on a series of focus group interviews to do so. It is argued that the shared popular wisdom and experiences are extrapolated from the personal to make sense of the state level – but in a way that tends to legitimise spending cuts. A key aspect to this mood of the times, it is argued, is the notion that the British public are, as one participant put it, ‘reaping what we sowed’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
JournalNew Political Economy
Early online date13 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • financial crisis
  • austerity
  • everyday politics
  • economic ideas


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