Compensatory Cultures: post-2008 Climate Mechanisms for Crisis Times

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DOI: 10.3898/NewF:99.04.2019

This paper charts emerging scholarship on what I conceptualise as ‘compensatory cultures’; cultures that are, in essence, compensatory responses to crisis, but are presented and received as desirable, even preferable ways of organising life. Since the 2008 crash, precarity has become a new normal and a dominant structure-of-feeling in the global north. I argue that compensatory cultures alleviate precarity’s affective impacts, enabling ‘business as usual’, yet do so in ways that perpetuate that precarity and the conditions that reproduce it. I survey literature on compensatory urbanisms, compensatory labour and compensatory consumption; demonstrating the compensatory as a pervasive mechanism operating across various cultural settings in the post-recession, austerity context. The work explored reveals compensatory cultures as central in remaking places, structuring social relations and producing meaning in crisis times. 

99: Cultures of Compensation