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Invisible Inequalities of Austerity: Everyday Life, Mothers and Health in Stockton-on-Tees

GREER-MURPHY, AMY,ALEXANDRA (2018) Invisible Inequalities of Austerity: Everyday Life, Mothers and Health in Stockton-on-Tees. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Austerity in the UK has been ongoing since 2010 and is contributing to widening health, economic, gender and social inequalities. There has been little contemporary qualitative research into the gendered inequalities of austerity in the context of health inequalities. This thesis presents findings from research with mothers in Stockton-on-Tees, a borough in the North East of England with wide health inequalities. The research focuses on the interplay between the macro and micro consequences of austerity for mothers – the impact of welfare retrenchment, public sector cuts and local labour market conditions, and how these effect everyday life in the context of unpaid care work and mothers experiences of depletion through social reproduction. This is contextualised through the lens of feminist political economy as an essential framework for diagnosing the symptoms of austerity and proposing productive alternatives. Qualitative longitudinal interviewing and ethnographic research are used to draw out the perspectives of respondents in relation to austerity and everyday life. The ‘intersectionality’ of inequality is emphasised – how gender interacts with age, class, place, ethnicity and disability to produce complex effects on health and wellbeing. Findings indicate that austerity is making Stockton-on-Tees a more uneven place - once-strong ties to communities are perceived to be deteriorating, and the socio-spatial distribution of inequality increasing. Mothers expressed a need for more space and time to care without the pressures of welfare reform and the associated risks. ‘Invisible inequalities’ are depleting the mental wellbeing of many mothers. This research provides a contribution to the growing body of evidence indicating that austerity is damaging to social equality, widening the health gap, contributing to worsening mental health, and intensifying intersecting inequalities for women. It is unique in its application of the concept of intersectionality to health inequalities in the context of austerity, and the novel contribution of a feminist political economy approach to the study of health and austerity.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Austerity; Health Inequalities; Feminist political economy; gender
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Applied Social Sciences, School of
Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:17 Oct 2018 08:01

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