The Centre for Welsh Politics and Society, hosted by WISERD, at Aberystwyth University presents:
Austerity and racism in rural England and Wales
Speaker: Dr Andrew Williams
This seminar examines the ways in which new geographies of austerity are overwriting and compounding problems of rural poverty in the UK. Despite recent calls to extend research there are currently only a few studies of the impacts of austerity on rural areas of the UK – most of which are either limited by social group, sector, or location, or treat austerity as a backdrop for the study of financial hardship. Drawing on a range of existing and newly updated datasets on local authority spending power and service spending, changes to welfare benefits, benefit sanctions, and local welfare assistance, this seminar identifies key characteristics and implications of austerity in rural England and Wales, including service deprivation and local state restructuring.
The seminar also considers the socially and spatially uneven geographies of welfare ‘reform’, focusing specific attention on the new welfare sanction regime introduced in 2012 that intensified the use of financial penalties against welfare claimants who failed to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of welfare programmes. Though the UK sanction regime is predominantly critiqued as a punitive and dehumanised bureaucratic mechanism whose authority is based on physical and moral distance, evidence presented here demonstrates the sanction regime is anything but impersonal. People from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds are more likely to be referred for a sanction by Jobcentre caseworkers and receive an adverse decision at the hands of institutional decision makers. However, in rural areas the risk of sanction referral is significantly higher for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic as compared to White claimant groups, raising critical questions about rural racism.
Dr Andrew Williams is a Lecturer in Human Geography at Cardiff University. His research interests centre on the relationships between welfare, ethics and care, religion, and neoliberalism. He pursues these through a series of ethnographic engagements in particular spaces in the city – drug and alcohol treatment, food banks, homelessness, protest, advocacy and care.
At the end of the seminar there will be an opportunity to ask questions.
Free admission by registration only.
For further information on the event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This event is organised by CWPS-WISERD, Aberystwyth University.