It has been more than a decade since the 2008 financial and economic crisis. During this time, neoliberal economic discourse and austerity policies tightened their grip on the mainstream political and economic institutions. Social science research has shown that austerity is not gender, colour and age blind but it hits hardest those segments of the society with traditionally less political power and visibility, including women, children, elderly and the minorities. At the same time, however, the crisis also instigated a surge of interest in heterodox and critical economic approaches arguing that austerity is not an economic necessity but a political choice. Similarly, movements aspiring to empower people through decentralised and deliberative decision-making are becoming increasingly popular. Most recently, Scotland decided to subject 1 per cent of all local budgets to participatory budgeting involving people in local investment decisions. Yet, it is not certain whether these initiatives successfully reach out to the most vulnerable and marginalised parts of the society, who are most in need of public investment.
In this one-day conference we will discuss public investment in the shadow of austerity and how it affects multiple and intersecting inequalities. We will discuss how austerity affects our legal system and the social fabric of our society and its most vulnerable members. We will also discuss whether and how participatory budgeting initiatives can empower people so that public resources are invested in a way that benefits all members of society, particularly the most vulnerable.
Kim Garthwhaite, Manager of County, Fountains, Walton and Vauxhaull Children’s Centres
Dr Sarah Marie Hall, University of Manchester
Gemma Lord, University of Manchester
Dr James Organ, University of Liverpool
Dr Kerry-Ann Barry, University of Salford
Jared Ficklin, University of Liverpool
Dr Angela O’Hagan, Glasgow Caledonian University
Fiona Garven, Scottish Community Development Centre
Jez Hall, Shared Future Community Interest Company
Dr Firat Cengiz, University of Liverpool
Participation is free but registration is required.