Absorbing the shock of austerity: the experience of local government workers at the front line

Hastings, A. and Gannon, M. (2022) Absorbing the shock of austerity: the experience of local government workers at the front line. Local Government Studies, 48(5), pp. 887-906. (doi: 10.1080/03003930.2021.1889516)

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Whilst post-GFC austerity state retrenchment is widely studied, there is little research which focuses on the experiences of those who work at the front-line of austere public services. Drawing on qualitative evidence with front-line workers in four UK local authorities significantly impacted by austerity, this paper explores ‘coping mechanisms’ developed by workers to manage resource restriction. It argues that existing conceptualisations of coping mechanisms, such as either resistance or adaptation, are insufficient to understand how workers manage contemporary austerity. This paper proposes an additional mechanism – absorption – and explores analytically how workers cope with austerity in terms of resistance, adaptation and absorption. The paper concludes that front-line local government workers are coping with austerity cuts, in large part, by acting as ‘shock absorbers’ of state retrenchment.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The authors are grateful to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation for funding the research on which this paper is based.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gannon, Ms Maria and Hastings, Professor Annette
Authors: Hastings, A., and Gannon, M.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Local Government Studies
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1743-9388
Published Online:25 February 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
First Published:First published in Local Government Studies 48(5): 887-906
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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