Making Sense of Austerity: Everyday Narratives in Denmark and the United Kingdom

Leonard Seabrooke, Rune Riisbjerg Thomsen

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Everyday narratives are grounded in how people make sense of their world. This article suggests that everyday narratives are made up of storysets with categories of meaning, story-lines that provide a temporal understanding, and plots that establish the common characters and scenes. These narrative elements are part of a sensemaking process where people are trying to understand their personal situation, changes to their households, and the national economy. We apply this logic to a study of online comments’ sections for 240 newspaper articles on austerity in Denmark and the United Kingdom. Characters such as ‘scroungers’ and ‘corporate criminals’ are identified, as are scenes such as the decline of the welfare state and the rise of technocracy. We link the storysets, story-lines, and plots together to understand how Brits and Danes are making sense of austerity. Their explanations and frustrations improve our understanding of who acts in everyday politics, and how everyday narratives are formed and maintained.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPolitics (Oxford)
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)250-261
    Number of pages12
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


    • Austerity
    • Britain
    • Denmark
    • Everyday politics
    • Sensemaking

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