Hey big spender!

Will Hutton is interviewed about the economic crisis in this week’s Big Issue magazine. Despite Hutton’s position in the mainstream media as a bit of a maverick, he normally makes quite conservative predictions about economic and social matters, trumpeting the rise of China or promoting economic / managerial approaches to social and cultural change. As director of the Work Foundation, he is certainly not a radical voice and for that reason we should look at his predctions as representative of a current within mainstream political circles, albeit one that he is able to voice publicly due to his ‘outsider’ status in the media.

 

Hutton points out that an economic recovery will require a rise in spending, by consumers or businesses. The consumer, claims Hutton, is concentrating on rebuilding savings, while businesses are becoming debt-minimizers in order to future-proof themselves against difficult economic times. Whether the British are re-building savings or merely starting to save after years of credit-fuelled spending is a moot point, but the likely outcome of this is stagnation in the economy, as happened in Japan in the 1990s after their economy crashed following a sustained boom. Stagnation of course, is even more problematic than a recession for a capitalist economy. A recession and a collapse in asset values at least offers the opportunity for growth and the restoration of the rate of profit; a prolonged stagnation denies capitalists the ability to grow their capital and limits the potential for competition, destroying the engine of the economy.

 

The stagnation that Hutton predicts however, doesn’t look like stagnation at the level of the individual worker or their communities. In order to maintain profit levels, it is likely that the current rate of job losses could continue at 60,000 per month for another three years before stabilisation is achieved. This could (should) lead to a period of social change as the economy and social provision is restructured to reflect this new socio-economic reality. Whether this period of change can be politicised to promote positive political developments remains to be seen, but already the possibilities of workforce mobilisation and collective responses to the crisis are facing up to the use of the recession to intimidate and manipulate workers. Politicians are keen to avoid taking the blame for the current crisis, as each country seeks to line up other markets or ‘the world financial system’ as the villains of the piece. This tactic creates a moving, camouflaged target for the public at large to aim at, and one that is obscured further by techno-managerial jargon and PR.

 

Will Hutton’s prescription for the crisis is a super-Keynesian level of fiscal stimulus, mainly based around a massive programme of public works similar to that which helped to lift the US economy out of the great depression in the 1930s. This might include large engineering projects and the development of a green economy. Of course, after the 1930s the US was left with a vastly expanded productive capacity which could only be usefully employed on a war footing over the following 60 years. The government funded expansion of production can only fix the system in the short-term, eventually the levels of state production work against competition and so have to be reduced and the debts incurred have to be repaid.

As David Harvey has pointed out, the current crisis offers an opportunity, as do all crises, for the reconfiguration of society within a different ideological framework. A more equitable society is not the necessary outcome of this process. Previous crises have seen the deepening and strengthening of the current system of power and attempts to provide a stimulus to return the economy to ‘normal’ are attempts to do just this.  The human costs of this will be enormous, and should shame journalists and politicians out of their current fetishisation of the fiscal stimulus as they hide behind superlative descriptions of it’s size and importance.

CFP: Liminal landscapes – remapping the field

This looks to be an excellent event. Wesley Rykalski and I will probably be submitting a paper, based on some of our work on our arcades / promenades project.

Symposium
Liverpool John Moores University
1st July 2010
 
Convenors
Dr Hazel Andrews, (Tourism, Consumer and Food Studies, LJMU)
Dr Kevin Meethan, Department of Sociology, University of Plymouth
Dr Les Roberts (School of Architecture, University of Liverpool)
 
Ideas and concepts of liminality have long shaped debates around the uses and practices of space in tourism. Victor Turner’s writings on ritual and communitas, Graburn’s theory of tourism as a sacred journey, or Shield’s discussion of ‘places on the margin’ have secured a well-established foothold in the theoretical landscapes of travel and mobility. The unique qualities of liminal landscapes, as developed by these and other writers on the subject, are generally held to be those which play host to ideas of the ludic, consumption, carnivalesque, inversion or suspension of normative social and moral structures of everyday life, deterritorialisation and ‘becoming’, and so on. While these arguments and tropes remain pertinent, and their metaphorical appeal evermore attractive, the extent to which these spaces provoke counter ideas of social control, terror, surveillance, production and territorialisation, invites an urgent call to re-evaluate the meanings attached to ideas of the ‘liminal’ in tourism studies. The deaths of 21 Chinese migrant workers in Morecambe Bay in 2004 has prompted a sobering re-assessment of the coastal resort as a site of tourism, leisure and consumption. The shifting social geographies associated with these landscapes has meant that the example of the beach may equally be looked upon as a space of transnational labour, migrancy, racial tension, death, fear, uncertainty and disorientation. In this instance, the precarious and un-navigable natural landscape of Morecambe sands becomes a metonym for the increasingly de-stabilising landscapes of trans- or post-national capitalist mobility. Moreover, the settlement of asylum seekers and refugees in UK coastal resorts such as Margate has exposed the underlying tensions and social divisions between representations that play on the ludic, touristic heritage of these resorts and those which address the marginality and exclusion that characterises the other set of mobilities and meanings evoked by these spaces. In addition, the appropriation of liminal landscapes by, for example, local authorities, commercial bodies and marketeers constructs an increasingly mediated or textualised space of performance that re-fashions the embodied (and embedded) spaces as lived by those who make up their diverse social fabric.
 
We invite contributions from across a broad interdisciplinary field, including scholars and practitioners working in tourism and mobility studies, anthropology, geography, film and cultural studies. We also invite multimedia submissions on the topic of liminal landscapes.
 
For enquiries and further details contact Dr Hazel Andrews H.J.Andrews@ljmu.ac.uk.
 
Please submit proposals for papers (300 words maximum) by e-mail to H.J.Andrews@ljmu.ac.uk. We also welcome proposals for panels and exhibits.
 
Deadline for proposals:                                                 30 September 2009
Notification of acceptance:                                            November 2009
Date for Registration:                                                    March 2010
Final submission deadline for full papers:                       7 January 2010
                                                  
Papers selected from the conference proceedings will be published in Journal of Tourism Consumption and Practice (www.tourismconsumption.org.).

Faculty of
Education, Community and Leisure

 
Dr Hazel Andrews PhD, MA, BSc
Senior Lecturer Tourism, Culture and Society
Centre for Tourism, Consumer and Food Studies
 

IM Marsh, Barkhill Road, Aigburth, Liverpool, L17 6BD
t: 0151 231 5234  e: H.J.Andrews@ljmu.ac.uk 
w: www.ljmu.ac.uk
Symposium
Liverpool John Moores University
1st July 2010
 
Convenors
Dr Hazel Andrews, (Tourism, Consumer and Food Studies, LJMU)
Dr Kevin Meethan, Department of Sociology, University of Plymouth
Dr Les Roberts (School of Architecture, University of Liverpool)
 
Ideas and concepts of liminality have long shaped debates around the uses and practices of space in tourism. Victor Turner’s writings on ritual and communitas, Graburn’s theory of tourism as a sacred journey, or Shield’s discussion of ‘places on the margin’ have secured a well-established foothold in the theoretical landscapes of travel and mobility. The unique qualities of liminal landscapes, as developed by these and other writers on the subject, are generally held to be those which play host to ideas of the ludic, consumption, carnivalesque, inversion or suspension of normative social and moral structures of everyday life, deterritorialisation and ‘becoming’, and so on. While these arguments and tropes remain pertinent, and their metaphorical appeal evermore attractive, the extent to which these spaces provoke counter ideas of social control, terror, surveillance, production and territorialisation, invites an urgent call to re-evaluate the meanings attached to ideas of the ‘liminal’ in tourism studies. The deaths of 21 Chinese migrant workers in Morecambe Bay in 2004 has prompted a sobering re-assessment of the coastal resort as a site of tourism, leisure and consumption. The shifting social geographies associated with these landscapes has meant that the example of the beach may equally be looked upon as a space of transnational labour, migrancy, racial tension, death, fear, uncertainty and disorientation. In this instance, the precarious and un-navigable natural landscape of Morecambe sands becomes a metonym for the increasingly de-stabilising landscapes of trans- or post-national capitalist mobility. Moreover, the settlement of asylum seekers and refugees in UK coastal resorts such as Margate has exposed the underlying tensions and social divisions between representations that play on the ludic, touristic heritage of these resorts and those which address the marginality and exclusion that characterises the other set of mobilities and meanings evoked by these spaces. In addition, the appropriation of liminal landscapes by, for example, local authorities, commercial bodies and marketeers constructs an increasingly mediated or textualised space of performance that re-fashions the embodied (and embedded) spaces as lived by those who make up their diverse social fabric.
 
We invite contributions from across a broad interdisciplinary field, including scholars and practitioners working in tourism and mobility studies, anthropology, geography, film and cultural studies. We also invite multimedia submissions on the topic of liminal landscapes.
 
For enquiries and further details contact Dr Hazel Andrews H.J.Andrews@ljmu.ac.uk.
 
Please submit proposals for papers (300 words maximum) by e-mail to H.J.Andrews@ljmu.ac.uk. We also welcome proposals for panels and exhibits.
 
Deadline for proposals:                                                 30 September 2009
Notification of acceptance:                                            November 2009
Date for Registration:                                                    March 2010
Final submission deadline for full papers:                       7 January 2010
                                                  
Papers selected from the conference proceedings will be published in Journal of Tourism Consumption and Practice (www.tourismconsumption.org.).

Faculty of
Education, Community and Leisure

 
Dr Hazel Andrews PhD, MA, BSc
Senior Lecturer Tourism, Culture and Society
Centre for Tourism, Consumer and Food Studies
 

IM Marsh, Barkhill Road, Aigburth, Liverpool, L17 6BD
t: 0151 231 5234  e: H.J.Andrews@ljmu.ac.uk 
w: www.ljmu.ac.uk

Symbolic capital in practice

Much of the discussion about symbolic capital focuses on the cultural and social capital that individuals or groups don’t have, and how this can explain behaviour, attitudes and achievement.  Because of this we often fall into the trap of defining symbolic capital in negative terms, or explaining it by setting out the consequences of it’s absence.  I was fortunate yesterday to stumble across an example of how cultural and symbolic capital functions within an elite group in a positive sense, to support the values of the group as a whole and give advantage to it’s members individually.  The quotation below is from Nigel Nicolson, former MP and son of Vita Sackville-West.  The quotation comes from Geert Mak’s excellent In Europe.

“My inheritance was not extensive in the financial sense, but rich in contacts and influence.  And it lent me a natural self-confidence, a background against which I could place myself.  My father put it this way: ‘I detested the rich, but I was wild about learning, science, intellect, the mind.  I have always taken the side of the underdog, but I have also adhered to the principle of the aristocracy.”

In this quotation we see the interplay of social and cultural capital, the links to education and the development of a faux-essentialist conception of the self and the worth of certain conceptions of intellectual endeavour.  Finally, the values of the elite are held up as a moral principle.

David Harvey ‘The Crisis Today’ @ Marxism 2009

By far the best thing I saw at the conference and an insightful, challenging analysis of the next steps in the crisis in which David Harvey presents a new model of restructuring around seven ‘moments’ that offers an opportunity to the left for a reconceptualisation of it’s approach.