Forms and characteristics of the social movement in Greece in the context of the economic and political crisis: Political participation and consciousness transformation

Eirini Gaitanou


This paper aims at presenting the main points of the research which has led to my doctoral thesis. The object of this research consists in the various forms and features of social movements that have emerged in Greece during the current period of crisis, all evaluated as part of “the social movement as a whole”. The studied period spans from April 2010 to October 2011, and includes the emergence of all different forms of mobilization, including strikes and the «movement of the squares». The focus is placed on the forms of political participation and the transformation of the actors’ consciousness in relation to their participation and experience, in connection with (1) the objective conditions; (2) their own social position in society; and (3) their own conceptualization of the “political”. The development of new relations between people and politics as well as of various forms of political representation (existing and/or new ones) have been given special attention.
Methodologically, this research has focused on two key points. The first concerns the theoretical context of social movements literature, its relevance to the Greek case, the detailed study of the Greek social and political formation, its class structure and the crisis, and it will not be approached in detail in this paper. The second point concerns the specific study of the social movement in Greece, including field research, mainly through 40 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with people with little or no prior relationship with politics and activism. Since the focus is on the consciousness of participation and engagement as developed by the participants themselves, and the transformative effects of action upon them, the theoretical conclusions discuss the issue of subjectivity and class consciousness within specific conditions, in relation to the popular perception of the political. This research aims at contributing in a deeper understanding of the social and political processes and the new situation arising in Greece, in a times when things seem far from stabilizing into a new coherent political project. Thus, the evaluation of its outcomes will insist on the current situation in Greece and its connection to the movements of 2010-2011.

social movements - political crisis - Greece - consciousness - political participation