Neoliberal Britains Austerity Foodscape: Home Economics, Veg Patch Capitalism and Culinary Temporality (New Formations 80,81, Autumn / Winter 2013)



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Publication date: November 1, 2013

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Lucy Potter, Claire Westall

This essay examines contemporary Britain’s foodscape in order to identify how mediatised life-quests uphold ‘boom-based’ culinary/consumptive motifs while mobilising a distinctive ‘austerity aesthetic’ that coincides and colludes with the British state’s neoliberal austerity narrative. In part one, ‘The British State of Home-Economics’, we examine this austerity aesthetic as it came to the fore during the ‘Great British Summer’ of 2012. In part two, ‘Localism, Veg Patch Capitalism and Austerity’, we unpack the fundamental contradictions found in the modesty claims of recent gentrified culinary activities and pastoralised localist discourses. And, finally, in part three, ‘Temporal Deficit and Culinary Work- for-Labour’, we analyse the foodscape’s investment in temporal presumptions, metaphors, promises and paradoxes in order to expose how the structure of deficit that shapes the way capitalism’s ‘economy of time’ is maintained through culinary ‘work-for-labour’. Throughout, we use the term ‘foodscape’ to ‘map food geographies’ onto cultural activities and socio-economic patterns, and to argue that Britain’s contemporary foodscape consistently fuels and reveals the self-contradictory yet self-perpetuating logic of capital as manifest in the neoliberal enterprise of state-led austerity.

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