This is the blog to accompany a research project exploring the occurrence and impact of refusal in the face of austerity measures, along with a focus on the responses to refusal by political authorities, and the eventual outcome of the interaction between austerity, refusal and authority responses. We have selected what we term ‘low-resistance’ models of capitalism – the UK and Japan – in order to explore how anti-austerity mechanisms operate in least-likely cases. Each of the pages of this blog detail the major proposals for austerity, and subsequent responses, and effects of those responses, during the 2010-15 period, in the UK and Japan.

David Bailey (University of Birmingham)
Saori Shibata (Leiden University)

The findings of the research were published in 2019:

Bailey, D.J. and Shibata, S., 2017, ‘Austerity and Anti-Austerity: The Political Economy of Refusal in ‘Low-Resistance’ Models of Capitalism’, British Journal of Political Science.

Key findings


Using fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis, the research highlights the ‘causal recipes’ sufficient for anti-austerity activity to have a significant impact on austerity proposals.


Necessary: In order to have a significant impact on austerity measures, there must be some ‘non-disruptive public protest’.


Sufficient (1): Austerity measures will be significantly obstructed when we see a combination of four types of protest – ‘imperceptible’ or ‘everyday forms of dissent; disruptive public protest; non-disruptive public protest; and militant forms of refusal.


Sufficient (2): Austerity measures will also be significantly obstructed in so-called coordinated market economies when we see non-disruptive forms of protest.



As such, obstacles to austerity appear more straightforward to activate effectively in Japan’s coordinated model of capitalism, whilst the UK’s liberal market economy tends to generate more innovative forms of dissent that (if they are sufficiently militant) provide an alternative route towards the obstruction of austerity.

On unobstructed imposition of austerity, we find that a lack of militant opposition is both necessary, and when sufficiently severe and combined with an LME context is also sufficient. Put differently, militant refusal is necessary in LME contexts if there is to be a chance of having an impact on austerity proposals.