The Neoliberal Myth of Austerity: Debt and Solidarity in the Forefront of Public Space


  • Andreas Vavvos
  • Sofia Triliva


A multitude of crises have ravaged Greece during the past six years. The ensuing austerity policies, imposed as antidotes, appear to have impacted people's lives gravely. The collapse of a failing social and political system led to the establishment of social solidarity initiatives. One of these initiatives is the Somateio Allilovoithias Ofeileton Rethymnou (SAOR-Network for the Mutual Assistance of Rethymno's Debtors). SAOR offers comradeship by activating citizens to build collective strength and to resist foreclosures actively. In this paper, we present the results of a qualitative study focusing on the lives of the people who are members of the network and are involved in deterring foreclosures. Eleven interviews and a focus group discussion provided by coalition members were analyzed using phenomenologically informed thematic analysis. Three superordinate themes were identified: 1) Living on the precipice: Shocked, hoodwinked and debt-ridden; 2) Mutual anger against the ‘betrayers' and the need for resistance; and 3) The national bankruptcy and unending deliberations regarding country's and the coalition's fate. These themes comprise a story entitled: The neoliberal myth of austerity: Indebted personhood in a bankrupt nation. Indebted citizens described the emotional collapse, the alienation, the feelings of solidarity they experienced and their anger toward politicians.