We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

The Human Costs of Austerity: A Case Study of Those Working in the Community and Voluntary Sector in the North East of England

MOROVAT, MAHTAB (2024) The Human Costs of Austerity: A Case Study of Those Working in the Community and Voluntary Sector in the North East of England. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF - Accepted Version


This thesis explores how austerity explains the experience of individuals working in the voluntary and charity sector. The welfare state's primary function is to provide an economic safety net, and to protect individuals against the consequences of many forms of harm throughout their lives. Welfare remains a sizable proportion of UK Government expenditure despite significant reductions since 2010. The voluntary sector directly delivers welfare through contracted services, and it steps in to fill gaps in provision and, therefore, is doubly exposed to austerity measures. Austerity literature mainly focuses on the tangible economic impacts of widening inequality, declining public services, poverty and growing welfare disparities. Gaps in the literature suggest that how austerity is experienced by those working in the voluntary and charity sector is an overlooked perspective. I have used Henri Tajfel's “Social Identity Theory” as a theoretical lens and combined it with Richard Sennett’s theories on the changing nature of work to navigate between macro-level policy and micro-level experience and thereby explore the human cost of austerity. This new approach goes beyond the financial and practical to understand the human cost of austerity as it relates to the identities, purpose and lives of those working in the voluntary sector. My findings provide engaging personal first-hand narratives relating to the role of social identity as an employed person and the relationships between job insecurity and the consequences of austerity measures. They demonstrate that austerity, reduced resources, and increased workloads drive the experiences of those in the sector. However, they can also be traced back to the gradual transitioning of services to the voluntary sector, brought about by public sector reforms implemented by previous governments. Membership in the voluntary sector brings a social identity constructed around the ethos of creating social wealth, but it has been undermined by prolonged austerity-driven job insecurity. It has increased workloads and damaged workplace dynamics to the detriment of those working in the sector.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Business > Management and Marketing, Department of
Thesis Date:2024
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:29 May 2024 13:49

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter