McWilliam, DS (2016) London's Dispossessed: Questioning the Neo-Victorian Politics of Neoliberal Austerity in Richard Warlow's Ripper Street. Victoriographies, 6 (1). 42 - 61. ISSN 2044-2416

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The moral justification for the rollback of benefits and services under the austerity programme unleashed by George Osborne since 2010, when he was first appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer by British Prime Minister David Cameron, is predicated on a neoliberal ideology that views unemployment and poverty as stemming from personal failings rather than the ways in which the free market has shaped British society since the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979. By using Charles Murray's neo-Victorian argument that the welfare state has created a work-shy, antisocial ‘underclass’, neoliberal politicians and journalists have mythologised the Victorian era as one of discipline and stability, providing a model for the sort of society we should aspire once more to be. This article argues that Richard Warlow's television series, Ripper Street (2012–), in showing the socio-economic causes of crime in late-Victorian London and the need for collective action and state intervention to alleviate them, challenges the construction of the era used to justify neoliberal austerity. It does so through what Ann Heilmann and Mark Llewellyn characterise as one of the defining features of neo-Victorian fiction: its ability to demonstrate the ‘quasi-fictiveness of the Victorians to our own period’, implicitly drawing parallels between the progressive zeal of nineteenth-century social reformers and the anti-austerity movement today.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Edinburgh University Press at - please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Neo-Victorianism, austerity, neoliberalism, underclass, welfare, television studies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 30 May 2017 08:28
Last Modified: 30 May 2017 08:28

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