An Investment into the Community: Local Authorities and the Regional Provision of Welfare

28 October 2020, 12:30 - 14:00

Online Event

"I think the seminars are a real perk of a CRASSH fellowship, and I found them more useful, both in substance and in form, than any other seminars I have attended in Cambridge." Dr Louise Joy (Crausaz Wordsworth Fellow in Lent Term 2020) 
 

Part of the CRASSH Fellows Work in Progress Seminar Series. All welcome but please email fellowships@crassh.cam.ac.uk to book your place and to request readings.


Dr Niamh Mulcahy

Living conditions of poor and working-class households in the United Kingdom have deteriorated substantially in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, as households experience homelessness, or the threat of homelessness, alongside a level of food insecurity that has seen food bank use rise exponentially in the last 10 years. Debt is no longer the purview of those who are unemployed, struggling to find work, or experiencing extreme circumstances such as an unexpected family death, but is increasingly necessary even for those in full-time employment, or working multiple jobs, just to make ends meet. In spite of economic recovery in the United Kingdom following the financial crisis, the period has seen the longest decline in real wages since the end of the nineteenth century. Meanwhile, secure full-time employment has also decreased, with most increases in job growth accounted for by the expansion of part-time or temporary employment. It is telling, therefore, that most policy solutions to the household debt crisis from central government in the UK assume the issue to be predominantly rooted in personal irresponsibility, or unfamiliarity with finance: financial literacy is seen as key to changing the problematic behaviour of individuals prone to overspending to the detriment of their ability to save. What has received less attention, however, is the increasing pressure households in debt are placing on resources at the local level. Calls for financial or housing assistance have increased in a way which requires local authorities to actively consider how they can provide for those most in need, when operating with their own reduced budgets and provisions for welfare. This talk will draw on insights from the beginnings of my research with three local authorities, into an understanding of localism and the devolution of decision-making power from central to local government as an unexpected development in a community-oriented drive to tackle indebtedness.

 

I completed a PhD in Sociology at the University of Cambridge in 2019, where I was also a member of King’s College. My earlier degrees, including a BA (Honours) and MA were undertaken at the University of Alberta, in Canada. 

Publications: 

“Is the social study of finance necessarily nominalist? Using realism to address critical shortcomings”. Forthcoming in the Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour

“Shaping entrepreneurial subjects: How structural changes and institutional fixes shape financial strategies in daily life”. Thesis Eleven 142:1 (2017), 5 – 17.

“Workers-as-consumers: Rethinking the political economy of consumption and capital reproduction”. Capital and Class 41:2 (2017), 315 – 332. 

“Entrepreneurial subjectivity and the political economy of daily life in the time of finance”. European Journal of Social Theory 20:2 (2017), 216 – 235. 

“Narrating developmental disability: Researchers, advocates, and the creation of an interview space in the context of university-community partnerships”. International Journal of Qualitative Methods 11:2 (2012), 165 – 179. 

Book Reviews

Review of Democracy in What State? New York: Columbia University Press, 2011. Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Daniel Bensaïd, Wendy Brown, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Rancière, Kristin Ross, and Slavoj Žižek. Translated by William McCuaig. Rethinking Marxism 25:4 (2013), 602 – 605.