The sexual and intimate life of UK austerity politics

  • Aura Charlotta Lehtonen

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis is concerned with the role of sexuality and intimacy in austerity politics in the UK since the formation of the Coalition Government in 2010. Conceptualising austerity politics as a broad political, cultural, and economic formation, it interrogates some of the key ways in which sexuality and intimacy are embedded within the discursive and regulatory functioning of austerity. Each of its three case studies examines sexuality and intimacy within a different discursive and/or regulatory site, including policy discourse, media discourse, and processes of policy implementation and service delivery. The cases studies focus, specifically, on the sexual and gendered assumptions embedded in austerity discourse; the limited narrative possibilities available for sexualised and racialised subjectivities in circulations of austerity discourse within popular media; and the materialisation of neoliberal penalisation in sexual and intimate lives as a series of intimate disruptions.

In enquiring after the kinds of sexual and intimate lives, subjects, and politics that are made (un)imaginable, (il)legible, or (il)legitimate by and within austerity politics, central to this thesis is the claim that austerity politics has a sexual and intimate life. It focuses on non-identitarian forms and modes of sexuality and intimacy, examining them through the frameworks of sexual inequalities, sexual subjectivities, and intimate disruptions. Finally, as well as intervening in epistemologies of sexuality, this thesis also explores the consequences that the embeddedness of sexuality and intimacy within austerity politics has for conceptualisations and understandings of the political.
Date of Award31 Oct 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The London School of Economics and Political Science
SupervisorClare Hemmings (Supervisor)

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