Living with Austerity in Southern Europe
A comparative ethnography of the responses on the ground to austerity policies in Southern Europe
The austerity crisis has radically altered the economic landscape of Southern Europe. But alongside the decimation of public services and infrastructure lies the wreckage of a generation’s visions for the future. In Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, there is a new, difficult reality of downward mobility.
Grassroots Economies interrogates the effects of the economic crisis on the livelihood of working people, providing insight into their anxieties. Drawing on a wide range of ethnographic material, it is a distinctive comparative analysis that explores the contradictions of their coping mechanisms and support structures.
With a focus on gender, the book explores values and ideologies, including dispossession and accumulation. Ultimately it demonstrates that everyday interactions on the local scale provide a significant sense of the global.
Susana Narotzky is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Barcelona, Spain, and past President of the European Association of Social Anthropologists.
'Grassroots Economies offers an astute and heart-breaking account of the toll decades of austerity politics have taken on southern Europe. Each chapter offers remarkable insights - taken together they present a sober and illuminating portrait of dispossession and loss.'- Jane Collins, author of 'The Politics of Value: Three Movements to Change How We Think about the Economy’
'This book vividly documents how people faced with austerity policies activated intergenerational solidarity and self-sacrifice. It is a splendid, rigorously documented and well-written account of people's resilience in difficult times that may be of even greater interest now as the pandemic crisis unfolds.'- Enzo Mingione, Professor of Sociology, University of Milano-Bicocca
'This book shows how the real economy works and thus redefines key concepts in economics such as competition, monopoly, regulation, work and value. All economists should read this book.'- Isabelle Guérin, Economist at the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development
'Susana Narotzky and her colleagues have inquired into the precarious lives of people confronted with austerity in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Their Grassroot Economies is a magistral endeavor to account for the current brutalisation of societies by capitalist practices and neoliberal policies.'- Didier Fassin, author of 'Life: A Critical User’s Manual'
'This volume represents a major contribution to economic anthropology and to the comparative ethnology of southern Europe. It is a rich, evocative ethnographic portrait of lives and livelihoods under conditions of austerity in southern Europe.'- Sharryn M. Kasmir, Professor of Anthropology, Hofstra University
List of Abbreviations
1. Introduction: Grassroots Economics in Europe - Susana Narotzky
PART I: MAKING A LIVING
2. Bondage Unemployment and Intra-class Tensions in Greek Energy Restructuring - Theodora Vetta
3. Work, Wage and Subsidy: Making a Living Between Regulation and Informalization - Antonio Maria Pusceddu
4. Criminalizing Livelihoods: “Illegal Vegetables” and the Return to the Home - Carmen Leidereiter
5. Austerity, Social Values and Value: The Social Economy and Entrepreneurship in Catalonia - Patricia Homs
PART II: SOCIAL REPRODUCTION
6. Austerity Welfare and the Moral Significance of Needs in Portugal - Patrícia Matos
7. Family, Housing as an Asset, and the Production of Welfare - Jaime Palomera
8. Social Reproduction in Times of Crisis: Inter-Generational Tensions in Southern Europe - Susana Narotzky and Antonio Maria Pusceddu
PART III: EXPERIENCING AND EMBODYING AUSTERITY
9. The Entrepreneur’s Other: Small Entrepreneurial Identity and the Collapse of Life Structures in the “Third Italy” - Giacomo Loperfido
10. The Body Politics of Austerity in Portugal and Spain: Women, Dispossession and Agency - Diana Sarkis and Patricia Matos
11. Austerity from Below: Class, Temporality and Scale in Grassroots Analyses of Crisis - Diana Sarkis and Stamatis Amarianakis
Notes on Contributors
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