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Session Overview
RN08_01: Comparative Perspectives on Socio-Economic Crisis
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Nicholas Petropoulos, Pedagogical Institute of Greece
Location: UP.4.214
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road

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Exploring Solidarity Practices in Times of Crisis in Greece: Applications of Mixed Method Designs

Stefania Kalogeraki

University of Crete, Greece

Between 2015 and 2016 Greece became one of the epicentres of the refugee crisis whereas concurrently the country was experiencing the hardest recession in its modern history with devastating socio-economic impacts on people’s lives. A plethora of both formal and informal groups/organizations have played pivotal roles in responding to the negative consequences of the recessionary economic conditions on citizens’ working and living conditions as well as to the unprecedented migrant influx. The paper using data from two EU-funded projects and applying mixed method sequential designs portrays specific features of the organisations providing solidarity actions to individuals affected from the recent economic crisis and to migrants entering the country. The quantitative analysis portrays the main features of social solidarity and migrant organisations (such as organisational structure, main and supplementary activities, ultimate aims etc) whereas the qualitative data sheds some light on how solidarity is framed in the context of the economic and refugee crisis. The paper contributes to related research on the potential transformations of the civil society at times of crisis and methodologically points to the value of mixed method designs to acquire a deeper understanding of the phenomenon under study.

The Refugee Crisis In Greece: Early Narratives On Social Disasters Through The Daily Press.

Joanna Tsiganou1, Grigoris Gkougkousis2, Dimitris Tourlidas3, Christina Varouxi1, Ifigeneia Vagia2

1National Centre for Social Research, Athens, Greece; 2Panteion University, Athens, Greece; 3National Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

Since 2015 Greece has experienced an unprecedented influx of large groups of displaced people escaping from persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations alone, arriving in Greek State’s northern but especially in its eastern frontiers. The scope of the proposed paper is to present qualitative research results on the early narratives produced through the daily press on the refugee crisis. The aim of the study is to unravel myths and realities associated with certain aspects of human and social disasters. It is also in the aims of the study to examine whether the narratives promoted, helped to activate the collective conscience and the collective memory of the Greek nation, a nation with a long history of migration waves into the country but also of Greek emigration flows abroad. In the context of our research study the narratives of the daily press seem to reproduce an endless but gradually intensified «conflict» between «hospitality» vis a vis «hostility» approaches. The unravelling of past and present relevant «traumas» and emotions, omnipotent in the relevant narratives always underline and, on occasion, surpass official policies. Our case study may deepen our understanding of the possibilities and the processes the present refugee crisis may be overturned from narratives of social and human disasters to prospects of successful inclusive realities.

Migration Crisis in Europe as a Test for Resilience of European Societies?

Barbara Pasamonik, Danuta Duch

The Maria Grzegorzewska University, Poland

The European migration crisis of 2015 and migrant-related events such as terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels or sexual harassments on New Year's Eve in German cities, have challenged European countries. We chose to analyze the migration crisis using the concept of resilience. Resilient communities are perceived as adaptive, flexible having ability to deal with crises and the capacity to learn. We used data from eight rounds of the European Social Survey to illustrate differences between social and political responses to the migration crisis in different countries. All four Visegrad countries jointly opposed relocation of refugees. In contrast, Germany allowed for immigration of about million people in a single year. Both responses exerted strong impacts on societies and internal politics in these countries. Surprisingly, the political impact was stronger in Poland, which refuse to host refuges, but in which the liberal political wing lost parliamentary and presidential elections, than in Germany, in which Merkel remain in power. This may suggest stronger resilience of German society, but one has to admit that this is the liberal perspective only. The right-oriented researcher may notice that Germany has not learn its lesson allowing for settlement of immigrants that pose threat to its citizens. The researcher may give even the UK example, the first EU country that allowed for massive Polish immigration, which after years shifted British society towards Brexit. Thus, the concept of resilience, adequate to valuate responses to local natural disasters, is ambiguous when applied to more complex threats.

International Humanitarian Aid Operations in the Protracted Refugee and Migration Crisis in Greece since 2015

Cordula Dittmer, Daniel F. Lorenz

Disaster Research Unit (DRU), Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants into Europe in 2015/16 overwhelmed the capacities of responsible services in several European countries, resulting in multiple humanitarian and political crises. Responses to these crises in varying European contexts differ significantly due to a great variety of actors with very different principles and their un-intended interplay. Being confronted with multiple crisis situations (I)NGOs needed to carry out their largest operations in many European countries under the umbrella of international humanitarian aid involving respective practices, standards, and funding which created an unprecedented hybrid situation. While national authorities “managed” the crisis situation predominantly as an issue of border security and control, the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) of the European Commission responded with new approaches and instruments to tackle the increasing humanitarian needs on the ground. In particular in Greece, where after the closing of the Western Balkan Route thousands got stuck on their way to North and Central Europe without any support in a state in which hardly any formal support services existed after the Greek financial crisis, the first international humanitarian aid operation within the EU was carried out from 2016 until 2019.

The paper investigates the unprecedented situation and responses of UN organisations, EU institutions, Greek authorities, (I)NGOs and grassroot volunteer organisations in Greece. The paper is based on qualitative field research (interviews and participant observation in camps) in Northern Greece, Lesvos and Athens in August 2017 as well as January/February 2019.

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