Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Theory and Criticism


Dr. Daniel Vaillancourt


The main focus of Austerity in America concerns how the country's geographical belts contribute to the culture of austerity in US capitalism in the time since Reaganism. In this dissertation I examine the Corn Belt, the Rust Belt, the Bible Belt, the Sun Belt and the Marijuana Belt as stages in the development of America’s culture of austerity. Since the early 1980s America’s culture of austerity has protected the wealthy elite from the working classes, who have been punished by the offshoring of US manufacturing jobs in post-Fordist corporate restructuring. The overall goal of this research is to address how the culture of austerity, the demand that Americans do more for less, protects the concentration of wealth in US capitalism from the popular demand for better paying jobs and social security. The global hegemony of US corporations produces economic opulence for the top one percent and economic deprivation for the masses, who enjoy little to no social security. The solid economic security of industrial jobs and company pensions for the working classes has been melted into thin air by capitalist exchange. In the culture of austerity, the political regime of tax cuts for the wealthy ensures an austere diet of low wages, no company pensions and pathetic social security for the working masses, who work longer and longer hours for less and less. US capitalism produces unparalleled economic wealth, yet Americans have little economic security.