The Glasgow Effect

The Glasgow Effect


A Tale of Class, Capitalism and Carbon Footprint

Ellie Harrison

ISBN: 9781912147960

Binding: paperback

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Back cover text:

How would your career, social life, family ties, carbon footprint and mental health be affected if you could not leave the city where you live?

Artist Ellie Harrison sparked a fast-and-furious debate about class, capitalism, art, education and much more, when news of her year-long project The Glasgow Effect went viral at the start of 2016.

Read a sample of The Glasgow Effect

Named after the term used to describe Glasgow’s mysteriously poor public health and funded to the tune of £15,000 by Creative Scotland, this controversial ‘durational performance’ centred on a simple proposition – that the artist would refuse to travel beyond Glasgow’s city limits, or use any vehicles except her bike, for a whole calendar year.

Includes 26 black and white illustrations.

It’s horrendously crass to parachute someone in on a poverty safari while local authorities are cutting finance to things like music tuition for Scotland’s poorest kids. I don’t know the artist personally but I think we’d all benefit more from an insight into what goes on in the minds of some of Scotland’s middle class. Darren McGarvey, Daily Record, January 2016

I’d already lived in Glasgow over seven years when the ‘chips hit the fan’ in January 2016. It was frustrating how the media took everything out of context. The Glasgow Effect was an epic undertaking resulting from years of research – a project which has shaped my thinking, action and life course ever since. This book is that hidden story. Ellie Harrison, March 2019

I can’t say that this book has been an easy undertaking, but it was a necessary one. I have emerged stronger and with more conviction than ever that in order to address the ‘climate emergency’ we must urgently reduce the amount we travel and the amount of energy we consume. Not least because a happy, healthy and sustainable life can and should result from committing and contributing to the community where you live. Ellie Harrison, The Glasgow Effect, July 2019

Reviews & Media Coverage

Watch Ellie’s TED talk on sustainability versus growth

Ellie Harrison’s project – her ‘extreme lifestyle experiment’ – is an anticipation of what’s to come. We will all have to relax our standards on what we regard as a legitimate or respectable ‘job’, as the new pieces of our socio-economic future settle... Harrison’s mix of occupational skills, community activism, education and self-expression – and her enthusiastic interest in how all these elements fit together – is going to be more and more the mainstream experience of ‘work’ in our societies. We should learn from her, and from the new wave of socially-engaged artists like her. Pat Kane, The National, January 2016

Brava to Ellie Harrison for continued integrity and conviction, as she uses her education, skills and (self-acknowledged) privileged position as an artist to challenge the failing economic status quo and ruffle the feathers of our corrupt, complacent establishment in Glasgow and beyond. Zara Kitson, Head of Community Engagement for Princes Trust Scotland, Facebook, January 2017

Ellie Harrison: Glasgow artist on a poverty safari? She better not forget the pith helmet. The Independent // Paid to Live Like Common People. The Daily Mail // Outraged over a £15,000 Glasgow art project? Look at the bigger picture. The Guardian // I’m a posh punchbag, says artist in Glasgow row. The Times // read all of this coverage from the original 2016 Glasgow Effect project and many more articles like them on Ellie’s website.


Extract from ‘Neoliberalism’ by Loki



Part 1: A Brief History of Neoliberalism

Chapter 1: Thatcher’s Children

Straight outta Compton

What the fuck is neoliberalism?

Social mobility isnae what they say

Waste not, want not

Major setback

Chapter 2: Creative Decade

Things can only get better

The knowledge economy

A golden age

Technologies of the self

Community vs career

Chapter 3: Welcome to Scotland

Dark clouds

Creative education

Bring back British Rail

Hedonism vs asceticism

Austerity politics

Long-distance love

Reality check

Chapter 4: Socialist Dystopia

Turning point

You are what you eat

System change, not climate change

Asceticism and the spirit of capitalism

Compromise and complicity are the new original sins

Progress trap

The leaky bucket

Worst inequalities in Western Europe

Settlers and colonists

First as tragedy, then as farce

Carbon graph

Part 2: The Glasgow Effect

Chapter 5: When the Chips Hit the Fan

Calm before the storm

I like Glasgow and Glasgow likes me

Facebook wormhole

The Divide

Small is Beautiful

Could there be a worse insult?

Chapter 6: Creative Destruction

But is it art?

Money can’t buy you love

Every human being is an artist

I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!

Career suicide

Where art and politics become one

Public property

Chapter 7: Lived Reality

Low-carbon lifestyle of the future

Citizen’s Basic Income

Biographic solutions to systemic contradictions

History, politics and vulnerability

The elephant in the room


Reflection and action

We need to stop ‘researching’ and start fighting!

Practising what we preach, preaching what we practise

Thrift radiates happiness

Hostile environments

The outsiders

Chapter 8: Aftershock

The end is the beginning

Impact agenda

The report


Worst nightmare

Part 3: The Sustainable City of the Future

Chapter 9: Think Global

Climate emergency

Downward mobility

Back to the future

Prosperity without growth


Chapter 10: Act Local

City as a site for social change

Regional power

Community control

Fearless Cities

Non-material pathways out of poverty

Chapter 11: Universal Luxurious Services

Those things we all need to live happily and well

Public luxury

Localism and protectionism

Positive alternatives

Car-free future

Chapter 12: Travelling Without Moving

Equalising mobility

Minimising migration

Paradox of repopulation

Education for life, not for work

Rekindling our radical past

Love-hate relationship with the city