Austerity and the Social Contract: Broken promises to broken lives?

Basu, Soumyajit (2016) Austerity and the Social Contract: Broken promises to broken lives? Masters thesis, St Mary's University, Twickenham.

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Abstract

- Does economic austerity break the moral obligations of ‘a social contract’ by exacerbating existing health inequalities? In line with many other European governments, the United Kingdom sought to achieve economic recovery during the post-2008 ‘Great Recession’ by instituting economic austerity policies. Decreasing public expenditure to reduce the national deficit, drastic cuts were made to the budgets of departments responsible for social welfare. The relationship between health and socioeconomic status has been identified by social epidemiological studies describing ‘social determinants of health’. These are fundamental aspects of the socioeconomic conditions in which people live their life-course, such as education, occupation and housing. Studies of these aspects show a correlation between social inequalities and health inequalities, so that the lower the socioeconomic position, the lower the average life expectancy, generating a ‘social gradient’ of health. Significant cuts to social welfare budgets reduces the support to those at the lowest end of the socioeconomic spectrum. The number of people at this end of the spectrum will multiply further if austerity policies have a damaging effect on the economy. Following the social gradient of health, and with increasing evidence that austerity slows economic recovery, the accusation may be levelled at proponents of austerity that their policies directly shorten the lives of the poor. A statement of such gravity necessitates examination of the ethical justification for and against the principles and consequences of economic austerity. Social contract theory, an ethical theory that incorporates moral, political and legal elements, will be used to construct a rigorous ethical critique of a national socioeconomic policy that threatens the welfare of its citizens.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: 100 Philosophy & psychology > 170 Ethics
School/Department: School of Education, Theology and Leadership
Depositing User: Kevin Sanders
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2017 15:05
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2017 15:05
URI: http://research.stmarys.ac.uk/id/eprint/1418

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