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Class habitus and perception of the future: recession, employment insecurity and temporality

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Abstract

This paper examines the consequences of the recent economic downturn and UK government spending cuts, as exacerbations of prevailing trends in neoliberal employment policy, on temporal perception, specifically as it relates to the adaptation of subjective anticipations of and projections into the future to objective prospects of unemployment by class. Grounded in a phenomenologically-minded Bourdieusian conceptualization of class and time and contextualized by statistics on chances of job loss, it draws on qualitative research with 57 individuals from across the class structure to chart differing dispositions toward the future. In particular, it distinguishes three orientations – the future as controllable, the future as uncontrollable and the future as reasonably controllable – which appear to correspond with resources possessed.

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