Emotions of austerity: Care and commitment in public service delivery in the North East of England

John Clayton, Catherine Donovan, Jacqui Merchant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


In the context of an austerity agenda, constructed through the deployment of aversive emotions, we offer a more-than-rational understanding of uneven austerity politics for organisations providing public services with marginalised groups. The article highlights how emotions are at the heart of the experiences of those delivering services in the North East of England. It considers the emotional toll of changes under austerity on the professional lives of participants, but also those impacts which relate to wider interpretations of loyalty and care beyond individual participants. Due to the nature of occupational roles which involve an ethos and practice of commitment, and through relations with decision makers, colleagues, service users and community over time, participants are engaged in a range of emotional work. We explore how recent experiences have highlighted a continued and in some cases accelerated undermining of their work and communities of which they are, in different ways, a part. However, they are also seen as generative of a set of significant emotionally charged responses to such challenges, which variously challenge and conform to the dominant discourse of austerity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-32
JournalEmotion, Space and Society
Early online date21 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015


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