Liam Stanley

The everyday politics of the age of austerity: Crisis and the legitimation of fiscal consolidation in the UK

Supervisors: Stephen Bates, David Bailey

From bank bailouts to the ‘age of austerity’, the advent of the global financial crisis has had an undeniable influence on how the economy is governed. In the UK, the Conservative party-led coalition government has tackled the nation’s debts and deficits through implementing ‘austerity’ – an economic strategy that, in this case, commits to lower state spending through consolidating welfare and cutting public services. My research focuses on how these potentially unpopular measures, which have been blamed on previous Labour government over-spending by the coalition government, resonated with the mood of the times of the British public. I have conducted focus groups to investigate how members of the public discuss and make sense of the state and public finances in order to understand how many reluctantly accepted the necessity of cutting the fiscal deficit – and, subsequently, the ‘swingeing’ cuts to public spending that have characterised the post-2008 political environment. In doing so, it aims to contribute to the emerging international political economy and British politics literature on the politics of the global financial crisis and fiscal consolidation.




I completed my undergraduate degree at Birmingham (2006-9), before moving to Sussex to complete an MSc in research methods (2009-10). I then returned to POLSIS in October 2010 to embark on an ESRC-funded PhD on the politics of austerity in the UK. In addition to my doctoral research, I also have an interest in political science methodology – which is reflected in a couple of my publications. I have acted as a peer reviewer for New Political Economy, Global Societies, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, and Journal of Critical Globalisation Studies.

In 2011 I contributed to a project on Prime Minister’s Questions with colleagues from POLSIS. The resulting work has been published by Parliamentary Affairs and received coverage on the Politics blog and other media outlets. From January to March 2013, I was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School. From May until September 2014, I am a research assistant on an ESRC-funded project on Debt Resilience led by Johnna Montgomerie (Goldsmiths). I am also co-editing a special issue of Politics with Richard Jackson (University of Otago) on ‘Everyday Narratives in World Politics’, which is projected for publication in January 2016. 


  • BA, Political Science, University of Birmingham.
  • MSc, Cross-cultural and Comparative Research Methods, University of Sussex.

Research interests

  • British political and economic change
  • International political economy
  • The global financial crisis and the politics of fiscal consolidation
  • Everyday narratives of politics, the economy and the state
  • Philosophy of social science and political science methodology

Professional memberships

  • Political Studies Association
  • British International Studies Association
  • International Studies Association

Teaching responsibilities

  • POLS101 Foundations of Politics (2010-11)
  • POLS107 Introduction to Political Economy (2013-14)
  • POLS205 International Political Economy (2011-12, 2013-14)
  • SOC202 Global Societies (2013-14)

Conference papers

Stanley, L. (2014) ‘The idea of austerity: an alternative history’, invited presentation at University of Sheffield Political Economy Research Series, January 17.

Stanley, L. (2013) ‘Us, them, and ‘taxpayers money’: Legitimacy, crisis, and the fiscal sociology of austerity’, SPERI Conference ‘Beyond Austerity vs. Growth: The Future of the European Political Economy’, Sheffield, July 1-3.

Samman, A. & L. Stanley (2013) ‘Constructivism and IPE: What’s the Matter with the Idea that ‘Ideas Matter’?’, British International Studies Association Annual Conference, Birmingham, June 20 – 21.

Participant, roundtable on ‘Methodologies Of Critical Political Economy: From The Global To The Everyday’, International Studies Association Annual Convention, San Francisco, USA, April 3 – 6, 2013.

Stanley. L. (2013) ‘‘We’re reaping what we sowed’: Everyday crisis narratives and acquiescence to the age of austerity’, Department of Business and Politics Work-in-Progress seminar, Copenhagen Business School, February 27.

Stanley. L. (2013) ‘‘We’re reaping what we sowed’: How British middle-class homeowners reluctantly accepted the idea of fiscal consolidation’, COST-Action IS0902 workshop ‘Post-positivist approaches to International Political Economy in times of economic crises’, University of Erfurt, January 11-12.

Stanley, L. (2012) ‘Acquiescing to the ‘age of austerity’: everyday crisis narratives and the politics of fiscal consolidation’, CPERC workshop ‘Never Waste a Crisis. Strategies of Representing and Managing Crisis after the Crash’, Morecambe, November 1-2.

Stanley, L. (2012) ‘Selling the ‘age of austerity’ to the UK: An analytical and methodological framework’, BISA-IPEG The Methodology of the Everyday in IPE workshop, University of Copenhagen, May 29 – 30.

Stanley, L. (2011) ‘Does crisis matter? Everyday experience and resistance during the global financial crisis’, Agents, acts and effects of resistance in the wake of economic crisis. ECPR Annual Conference, Reykjavik, August 25– 27.

[A full list of presentations can be found on my CV, available via]


Stanley, L. (forthcoming), ‘‘We’re reaping what we sowed’: Everyday crisis narratives and acquiescence to the age of austerity’, New Political Economy, DOI: 10.1080/13563467.2013.861412.

Bates, S., C. Byrne, P. Kerr, and L. Stanley (2014), ‘Questions to the Prime Minister: A Comparative Study of PMQs from Thatcher to Cameron’, Parliamentary Affairs, 67:2, pp. 253-280.

Stanley, L. (2012) ‘The Difference Between an Analytical Framework and a Theoretical Claim: A Reply to Martin Carstensen’ Political Studies, 60:2, pp. 474–482.

Stanley, L. (2012) ‘Rethinking the definition and role of ontology in political science’, Politics, 32:3, pp. 93–99.

I have also published book reviews in Journal of Critical Globalisation Studies, International Affairs, Political Studies Review.