SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Austerity, Populism, Protest: People Power in the Age of Dissent

Dr David Bailey (University of Birmingham)

Date: 8 October 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 8 October 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT)

Type of Event: Seminar

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Austerity, Populism, Protest: People Power in the Age of Dissent

The current decade in British politics began with the coalition government’s austerity agenda and a wave of student protest. This set the tone for the decade. Austerity has continued unabated, and public protest has risen to the highest levels witnessed since the onset of neoliberalism. As the legitimacy of British democracy is increasingly called into question, the political elite have largely turned to right-wing populism (and Brexit) as the only available way to seek popular approval. Yet, whatever measures are adopted, both the crisis of British capitalism, and popular protest against it, continue to grow in scale. This raises key questions that all capitalist democracies are struggling to answer: How can popular demands be avoided? How can austerity measures be imposed? How can democracy be legitimated without providing what people want or need? From ‘our’ perspective, however, the questions are different: How can we articulate a voice that goes beyond a focus only on market 'logic'? How can we find ways to survive in the age of neoliberal stagnation? How do we dissent when the options available are limited to austerity or right-wing populism? And, most importantly, how do we begin to dismantle neoliberal hegemony? This talk documents – and illustrates the key trends in – different acts of protest witnessed in neoliberal Britain since 2010, assessing the reasons why people have turned to protest, the effects it is having on British democracy, and putting these questions into a broader historical and global perspective in order to understand the current stagnant phase of neoliberalism and its related ‘age of dissent’.

David J. Bailey is Senior Lecturer in politics at the University of Birmingham. His research and teaching focus on the way that protest interacts with capitalism. He recently co-authored a book on different forms of anti-austerity and opposition within the neoliberal European Union, titled Beyond Defeat and Austerity: Disrupting (the critical political economy of) Neoliberal Europe. He has also published articles on anti-austerity with New Political Economy, Socio-Economic Review, and the British Journal of Political Science. He is reviews editor and editorial board member of the journal Capital & Class, and currently the chair of the Critical Political Economy Research Network (CPERN).

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All welcome, no need to book but please do arrive early to be sure of a seat.

Organiser: Feyzi Ismail (