At the heart of contemporary austerity culture is the idea that there is an analogy to be drawn between our post-recessionary, deficit-cutting times and Britain in an earlier age of austerity. This historical analogy has been reiterated, secured and made meaningful in a very wide range of texts and contexts, resulting in a culture that is saturated by reference to ‘austerity Britain’ (see Figure 3.1). As I showed in the previous chapter, consumer culture has in particular been a critical site for the communi-cation of ideas about ‘austerity’. In retail and other consuming spaces, austerity is something that can be bought and consumed; it is associated with particular experiences and has distinct effects. In the context of this allusive and homologous discursive formation, images, scenarios, narratives and other signifying resources associated with austerity Britain have tended to be used to address the concerns of the present, rather than to explore, investigate, or commemorate the past. The history of austerity Britain is rarely opened up as an object for discussion in these texts and contexts, but is instead used, borrowed, referenced. It is seen as a resource that can be put to work to produce new meanings, in relation to emergent issues.
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- The Past in the Present: History, Memory, Ideology, and Discourse
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