Resistance is futile? The impact of disruptive protest in the 'silver age of permanent austerity'

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes


This article contributes to the debate within the comparative political economy literature regarding the viability of market-correcting policy preferences under global socio-economic constraints. The existing literature has thus far focused predominantly on moderate, institutional, elite-oriented forms of contention over welfare policy reform. The article presents evidence that disruptive, innovative or elite-challenging forms of contention play an important role in welfare reform and should therefore be the subject of more sustained research. Pooled time-series cross-sectional analysis provides support for the claim that this more disruptive type of contention has a more significant and consistent impact on the process of welfare reform than do the institutional and moderate forms of contention that are more frequently studied (especially under adverse economic conditions and heightened levels of global socio-economic pressure). This is because (a) participants in acts of institutional, elite-oriented forms of contention more readily accede to elite discourse when it is asserted that welfare retrenchment measures are ‘necessary’; and (b) moderate, elite-oriented activities are more easily ignored by policy makers.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-32
JournalSocio-Economic Review
Issue number1
Early online date28 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2014


  • Political economy, Redistribution, welfare states, neoliberalism