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Email: ku. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract In response to recent calls for further cross-disciplinary research on austerity and a deeper sociological understanding of the impact and aftermath of the economic crisis on individuals and societies, this article builds on extant austerity literature through an exploration of its effects on European men.

Keywords: austerity, communitas, liminality, male identity, recession, rites of passage. The Nature of Liminality and Rites of Passage Liminality is constructed as a new identity state to be contrasted with the normal or previous state Baker et al.

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Gender and Austerity The concept of masculinity and masculine identity has been explored across a range of studies e. Methodology The study took an interpretive approach Goulding, to explore the nature of austerity experienced by 32 Europeans. Table 1. Profile of male participants. Open in a separate window.

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Separation According to Van Gennep [] : , those in the separation or preliminal stage are detached from their old life, and often experience a change in their social condition. Yiannis, 38, Greek, university academic He went on to talk about a fundamental shift in his situation and disconnection between who he was and who he had become, both as a father and a man burdened by financial problems. Exercise was an important part of his identity but now he found he was constrained by time pressures and guilt at not being more present to help his wife mind his children: I believe that working with my body was a dialogue, a way to restore balance.

Yiannis, 38, Greek, university academic Yiannis was separated from his previous life, partly through the rite of passage of becoming a new father alongside his increasing workload. He presents a classic representation of a crisis of masculinity created through loss of work Banet-Weiser, : There is a before and after; in positions that I was before I earned a lot of money, I invested in buying a second big house, and I bought everything you can imagine […] Now I have incurred these expenses and I need to keep covering them.

Antonio, 38, Spanish, unemployed commercial director This separated state has clearly affected his confidence and perceptions of self-worth in terms of his position in society. Luisme expressed his despondency about how he still lived with his parents making no economic contribution to the household: My parents, they deal with those duties. While enduring this liminal state, Luisme chose to study and postpone his life plans: I am lucky as I got a scholarship but I think the government is not doing enough for people and does not care about those people who need most help with their lives and mortgages, with children […] it has affected me in such decisions as well, I wish I would own a house, have children and get married.


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Manuel, 53, Portuguese, unemployed construction worker This importance of being the breadwinner in the narratives of fathers reflects a traditional masculine identity Brannen and Nilsen, Derek, 64, UK, self-employed carpenter Not only was Derek versatile in his ability to manage these troughs through several sources of income but he was prepared to continue to work part-time beyond conventional retirement age. David, 60, Irish, mature student David travelled through the separation from his previous life as a business man and the liminal stage of being a mature student and was now envisaging his next step.

Adapting to student life had made him feel that he was a more rounded person and being connected to young people had brought him something unique and valuable which he hoped to put to good use upon returning to work: Adapting can be a difficult process […] I felt it was necessary for me to adapt. David, 60, Irish, mature student Perceiving himself as a survivor of the recession, David appeared optimistic and confident that he could continue to contribute.

He was careful to emphasise that having forecast problems in his company he took the risk to set up his business with the view that this would be better for him and his family in the long run: So a significant part of my decision to resign and try to develop my own business had to do with my forecasting of serious problems emerging in the company I used to work for […] Even though everybody values, myself included, the security of a pay-cheque, I decided that it was best to take my destiny into my own hands and try to build a business that does not rely so much on the Greek economic reality so as to be able to provide greater security in the long run for my family.

The fact that he considers the possibility of emigration might suggest that he had at least mentally gone through the stages of separation and transition to reach a place of reaggregation Van Gennep, [] in terms of what he must do now: It is a reassessment of lifestyle that is taking place. Nikolaos, 41, Greek, setting up own financial advisory business Unlike other participants who shared their experiences of liminal vulnerability largely in response to austerity, he acknowledged the effects of austerity on his spending and income but he did not admit to this being the main driver of his rationalisation plan.

Robert, Irish, 38, public servant Noting that such spontaneous support may not have occurred before austerity, Robert derived benefits from this communitas which in turn helped him and others in his network cope with their changed situation.

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Bernado, a year-old Spanish surgeon has had to adapt to a significant salary reduction but emphasised that he was still in a privileged position while he felt both sad and close to those who were more severely affected by austerity: It is so sad, you see the news and I feel so bad. Bernado, 46, Spanish, orthopaedic surgeon Here, communitas is presented as empathy and concern for the plight of others. When a group have a common theme which unites them, as in his case, other issues such as ideological differences may be sublimated: We influence each other, many decisions, many consumption decisions, you know when you talk with others, you get a sense of their decisions and rationale and you adjust […] adjusting pretty much with what other people do […] we may differ in part because of our ideologies, many of them are in favour of many aspects of the economic policy […] and I am totally, utterly against all of them […] This actually, quite interestingly, does not influence how we behave, how we worry about things and what we do, which is rather similar.

Yiannis, 38, Greek, university academic Liminality had, however, resulted in outsiderhood for others.

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Conclusions Responding to recent calls for further cross-disciplinary research on austerity Brown and Spenser, and a deeper sociological understanding of the impact of the economic crisis and its aftermath on individuals and societies Dinerstein et al. Notes 1. Footnotes Funding: This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors. References Alexander SM. Sociological Perspectives 46 4 : — Allen RE, Synder D.

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Petersen F. This in turn obliged him to accept any kind of job, despite poor pay and sub-optimal working conditions, to provide for this family:. Manuel, 53, Portuguese, unemployed construction worker. This importance of being the breadwinner in the narratives of fathers reflects a traditional masculine identity Brannen and Nilsen, Manuel spoke at length about the burden of shouldering financial responsibility for the family and the anxiety of failing to provide.

Embodying the traditional masculine ideal of the hard working family man Ferguson, and male provider Riley, Manuel talked about feeling controlled and forced to work long hours with little pay. In this state of transition, he was travelling a path prescribed by his situation and did not know where it would lead. The reaggregation, incorporation or post-liminal rite is the ultimate end point in the rite of passage. While we recognise that all participants may reach this, some seemed to already have moved to a reaggregation state.

One participant noted that the nature of his work and life experience had prepared him to adapt to austerity. Derek, a year-old self-employed carpenter with two other part-time businesses described how the ups and downs of his working life have equipped him to be both adaptable and to turn his hand to different jobs:. Derek, 64, UK, self-employed carpenter.

Not only was Derek versatile in his ability to manage these troughs through several sources of income but he was prepared to continue to work part-time beyond conventional retirement age. He displayed adaptation and creativity Keating et al.

It may be that having been through previous rites of passage he was able to adapt, envisioning his future with equanimity. Others appeared to have learned, accepted and adapted to their changed circumstances and in some cases this had been life changing in a positive way. David was a year-old former businessman who decided to return to full-time study at the height of the recession in Ireland. Single-minded about his decision, he still felt the responsibility of being a parent to his adult daughters.

He emphasised that he was optimistic about his future career options and anticipated many working years ahead:. David, 60, Irish, mature student. David travelled through the separation from his previous life as a business man and the liminal stage of being a mature student and was now envisaging his next step.