At a crossroads of intense reform and cuts, with eight years of austerity in the rear-view, academics, activists and artists aim to relocate the whereabouts of British welfare.
21st Century Welfare: Understanding the present on 25 September in Liverpool is the second in a series of three free seminars charting the welfare state’s past, present and future.
Backed by the Sociological Review Foundation, Welfare Imaginaries wants to bring together from many backgrounds to ‘reimagine welfare for contemporary times’.
The second session aims to untangle the nostalgia, pride, anger and resistance surrounding welfare, as seen on TV and in films, such as the recent I, Daniel Blake.
“The welfare state has been subject to unprecedented retrenchment and austerity measures, resulting in various socioeconomic crises, often effecting the most vulnerable,” said Dr Sara de Benedictis, a lecturer in media and communications at Brunel University London.
The second Welfare Imaginaries seminar hones in on the impact of austerity, and how people and communities have resisted and countered it.
“In the context of intense socioeconomic and political upheaval, we need to consider how austerity has changed the welfare state as we know it and listen to the various ways people are calling power to account, resisting such changes and reimagining welfare,” added Sara, who is co-organising The Welfare Imaginaries alongside by Drs Kim Allen, Sara De Benedictis, Kayleigh Garthwaite, Tracey Jensen and Ruth Patrick.
An impressive line-up of speakers includes online activist Mark McGowan, aka the Artist Taxi Driver, the National Union of Journalists’ social housing campaigner Rachel Broady, and writer and journalist Kerry Hudson, who has written about Britain’s poorest towns. The session also features ‘zine-making workshops with artist Jean McEwan.
21st Century Welfare: Understanding the present is at The Women’s Organisation in St James Street, Liverpool on 25 September. The final session in the series, Welfare Futures: Where next?, is on 4 December at The Birmingham and Midland Institute in Birmingham, where guests include online activist I was a JSA claimant, and the broadcaster and Guardian columnist Frances Ryan.
Hayley Jarvis, Media Relations
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