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Session Chair: Sokratis M. Koniordos, University of Crete
Location:PD.2.34 PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences
136 Syggrou Avenue
17671 Athens, Greece
Building: D, Level: 2.
Semi-Plenary 05 with Maria Petmesidou and Nicos Mouzelis.
Welfare Reform in Greece: A Major Crisis, Crippling Debt Conditions and Stark Challenges Ahead
Democritus University of Thrace, Greece
The presentation tracks the unfolding of the Greek crisis and examines the main policy reform options in the context of the conditions imposed by the “rescue-deals”. A raft of significant reforms since 2010 in labour market policies, social insurance and health and social care are assessed according to whether and to what extent fiscal consolidation has been balanced with concerns about improving protection and redressing inequalities, or whether standards of social protection have been forced ever lower.
Undoubtedly, neo-liberal austerity is the mantra of social adjustment under the successive bailout agreements. A “fightback” stance rejecting austerity and its neo-liberal assumptions in an attempt to reassert neo-Keynesianism acquired broad political significance with SYRIZA’s rise to power, which tapped into the discontent resulting from the harsh austerity measures. However, the government’s failure to translate the anti-austerity stance into a realistic economic policy and negotiate a better deal for Greece seriously narrows the scope for reform towards a sustainable redistributive welfare state.
The major questions raised are: How will the ongoing reforms impact upon the social structure, social cleavages and conflicts? More importantly, how will they impact on the large middle class strata in Greek society? Will the outcome be “a race to the bottom” in wages and social welfare? Could, instead, a socially-embedded form of liberalization and flexibilisation be followed (for example, along the lines of social investment)? These issues are examined in the light of a broader debate on welfare transformation in Europe and the changing socio-political cleavages and solidarities.
Maria Petmesidou (Ph.D. Oxford University) is Professor of Social Policy at Democritus University (Greece) and Fellow of CROP/ISSC (Comparative Research on Poverty/International Social Science Council). She has published extensively on social policy and welfare reform in Greece and Southern Europe. Most recently she co-edited the books: Economic crisis and austerity in Southern Europe: Threat or opportunity for a sustainable welfare state? (London: Routledge, 2015) and Child poverty and youth (un)employment and social exclusion (Stuttgart: Ibidem, 2016). She is co-ordinating research on policy learning and transfer in the field of youth employment policies (funded under the EC FP7 programme).
The Crisis in Europe and Greece: The Impact on Identities
London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom
The presentation analyses the basic developments leading to the crisis; as well as the impact these developments had on the "de"construction of European identities.
Nicos Mouzelis is Emeritus Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics. He has written extensively in the sociology of organizations (Organization and Bureaucracy, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967), sociology of development (Modern Greece: Facets of Underdevelopment, Macmillan, 1978; Politics in the Semi-Periphery: Early Parliamentarism and Late Industrialisation in the Balkans and Latin America, Macmillan, 1986); social theory (Post-Marxist Alternatives, Macmillan, 1990; Back to Sociological Theory, Macmillan, 1991; Sociological Theory: What Went Wrong?, Routledge, 1995; Modern and Postmodern Social Theorising, Cambridge University Press, 2008), and sociology of religion (Modernity and Religion: Secularization, Fundamentalism, Ethics (in Greek), Polis, 2014).