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Young Greeks Taking to the Streets: How Protest Shapes Political Socialisation in Times of Crisis?

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Youth Political Participation in Greece: A Multiple Methods Perspective

Abstract

The political socialisation of youth in contemporary Greece has been marked by a multifaceted crisis, i.e. financial, public debt and austerity crisis as well as a crisis of political legitimacy. Beyond resistance to the predicaments of a forthcoming or an ongoing crisis, youth contentiousness is triggered by a generalised discontent and distrust to institutions, to the political system and the operation of democracy and is reinforced by global social movements, a culture of youth rebellion and radicalisation trends. Due to plentiful opportunities a mass of young people took to the streets shortly before the onset of the financial crisis; however, the impact of these early protest experiences on youth political socialisation remains understudied. Drawing on biographical interviews with young activists in Greece (which were conducted in 2018–2019), this chapter explores how protest influences youth activism, by prompting reflections on their grievances, the formation of collective identities and an emotionally driven decisiveness towards collective action. Major protest events, school protests and emotional imprints of early protesting are identified as significant socialising factors. This work lies at the intersection of youth participation and social movement scholarship and its central contribution is to explain how early protest-related experiences shape youth politicisation.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The conceptualization of the terms unconventional and non-institutionalised in this chapter follows related literature. Della Porta and Diani define the unconventional forms as those which go ‘beyond the routinized forms of participation in representative democracy’ (2006: 191), which include signing petitions and participation in lawful demonstrations, boycotts, occupations and sit-ins to name just a few, which nevertheless become increasingly legitimized (ibid: 166). The dichotomy between institutional and non-institutional forms is also met in the binary terminology on types of political participation (e.g. Pickard, 2019: 70), mainly to distinguish between the traditional, electoral politics and the non-electoral, lifestyle-related and cause-oriented politics.

  2. 2.

    Results presented in this chapter have been obtained within the project ‘Reinventing Democracy in Europe: Youth Doing Politics in Times of Increasing Inequalities’ (EURYKA). This project was funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Programme (grant agreement no. 727025).

  3. 3.

    The Metapolitefsi was a period in modern Greek history from the fall of the dictatorship of the colonels (1967–1974) to the transition period shortly after the 1974 legislative elections.

  4. 4.

    The original sample included four additional interviews from a centre-right political party, which were excluded from this analysis due to the abstention of the organisation from contentious forms of political action. An analysis based on the full dataset is reported in Paschou and Loukakis (2019).

  5. 5.

    The neighbourhood of Exarcheia is a hub of social centres and squatter settlements in the city of Athens (Arampatzi & Nicholls, 2012: 2599).

  6. 6.

    The arson attack on a central Athens branch of the Marfin Bank in May 2010 is one of the most tragic moments of Greece’s financial crisis (BBC, 2013).The fatal arson attack by anti-austerity protesters caused the death of three staff members. Notably, the Marfin branch had refused to allow staff to leave early, unlike other banks in the area.

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Acknowledgements

I wish to thank Angelos Loukakis and Chara Kokkinou for their work in data collection and coding. This study would not have been possible without the support of Maria Kousis as the leader of the Greek team as well as the support of Lorenzo Bosi and the other members of the Italian team who provided their guidance throughout the progress of the empirical investigation and the analysis.

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Paschou, M. (2022). Young Greeks Taking to the Streets: How Protest Shapes Political Socialisation in Times of Crisis?. In: Kalogeraki, S., Kousis, M. (eds) Youth Political Participation in Greece: A Multiple Methods Perspective. Palgrave Studies in Young People and Politics. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-09905-2_2

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