Fear and insecurity in the politics of austerity

Janne Autto, Jukka Törrönen, Jef Huysmans

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Abstract

This paper examines how fear and insecurity are deployed in disputes over austerity. Drawing on discussions on the cultures of fear and on the social and political process which weaves fear and insecurity into the fabric of society, we analyse how austerity was justified and opposed in the Finnish parliament in 2015. We bring out different renditions of fear in five registers of justification that were deployed in the dispute. The registers evoked fear with threats to national sovereignty, dangers to societal security, and threats of harm and vulnerability. In addition, the registers evoked fear by drawing rhetorical force from the welfare state identity and by intertwining fear with political trust. Even though the renditions of fear played an important role, our findings also speak against straightforward interpretation of the politics of austerity as an example of moving into a culture of fear and insecurity.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Feb 2021
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Austerity
  • insecurity
  • politics of fear
  • trust
  • welfare state

Field of science

  • Sociology

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