Since the 2008 financial crash, communities across Europe have been living through austerity – the very challenging economic conditions created by government measures to reduce public spending. The justifications for, and impacts of, austerity have been much debated over the last decade. Many social scientists across many disciplines must now factor austerity into their research in some way. But how?
SeNSS co-funded an event in May 2019 organised by the University of Kent’s Centre for Ethnographic Research to address this challenge. The half-day conference, ‘Researching Austerity: Concepts, Methods and Debates’ attracted doctoral researchers, supervisors and pathway leads from across the consortium. Organiser Dimitrios Theodossopoulos (SeNSS Anthropology pathway chair) said, ‘It was a great success, involving an excellent range of topics and speakers at different stages of their research careers.’ Anna Traianou (SeNSS Education pathway chair) and others presented a paper in a session chaired by Larry Ray (SeNSS Sociology pathway chair).
The first part of the event provided a forum for sharing profiles of austerity-affected individuals in life-history formats. The second focused on the social science uses of the term ‘austerity’, inviting four researchers to reflect on conceptual and definitional challenges. The third took a dialogical form, structured by a set of prearranged challenging questions posed by SeNSS doctoral researchers and others.