Food banks, actually existing austerity and the localisation of responsibility
This paper contributes to emerging geographical literature on what is here conceptualised as ‘actually existing austerity’—referring to the uneven ways through which austerity is felt, negotiated, embodied and contested in the varied spatial tapestry of everyday life. Through theorisation of the contemporary operation of food banking in the UK, it will be argued that the gaps in provisioning (in this case, of food) left by welfare reform and state spending cuts in the UK under the guise of austerity are engendering new forms of responsibility that are unevenly distributed and performed—often by those already excluded, marginalised and impoverished. This localisation of responsibility has crucial implications for how austerity becomes embodied and negotiated, as well as the unequal material implications it holds for different people and places. This paper concludes by arguing for a future research agenda concerning actually existing austerity, signalling the need for 'thicker' and more grounded accounts of austerity at scales beyond the nation-state and/or city alone.