The Social Aftermath of Economic Disaster: Working Class Responses to Rapid Socioeconomic Change in Greece

Saturday, June 25, 2016: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
205 South Hall (South Hall)
Alexander Kentikelenis, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom; University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The economic crisis in Greece resulted in high unemployment and the dismantling of social protection policies. This article examines how newly unemployed working-class people responded to rapid downward socioeconomic mobility. Drawing on the work of Karl Polanyi, I trace these issues through the study of one working class community in Athens over 2012-13. Until the onset of the crisis, my informants were able to secure a livelihood relying on a mix of market- and welfare state-provided resources, but are now doubly excluded: both from employment and from access to state-provided services. As a response to these dislocations, new dynamics emerged. First, non-state actors stepped in to provide elementary welfare services. Second, the social landscape became reconfigured to counter the social disintegration and dynamic attempts at social mobilization emerged. Finally, as people’s skills were no longer validated by the market, they turned to the construction of a new socio-spatial imaginary to regain a sense of worth and belonging.