Lived experiences of utilities-based indebtedness in Greece: Tracing the afterlives of austerity

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During the past decade, Greece has been a hotbed of crisis and austerity. Unsurprisingly, austerity and counter-austerity politics captured academic and public attention. This paper seeks to contribute to discussions on the articulations and legacies of austerity in Greece, and beyond, by emphasising questions of reproduction. The paper centres on utilities-based indebtedness (UI) to explore the legacies of austerity. It understands UI and experiences with it as tethered to the enduring financial vulnerability and precarity that austerity politics inscribed in life and work during the early 2010s. Drawing on feminist writings, the paper mobilises social reproduction as a lens to explore the legacies of austerity in the encounters and entanglements between the monetary and the mundane. It draws on interviews with households conducted in 2019 in Thessaloniki to show how UI is a legacy of austerity and to trace austerity's afterlives in the visceral realties of living with UI. The paper argues that life with UI was a manifestation of a crisis in social reproduction, whereby households could not meet all their basic needs without falling into UI. It then zooms in on family and personal relations to trace the afterlives of austerity in the everyday. It explores the impact of UI and the uncertainties of reproduction on these relations and how decisions on debt and bill payments as well as reproductive practices became enmeshed in them. Overall, the paper demonstrates that, besides enduring landscapes of hardship, austerity left behind a heightened tension between the necessity for, and unsustainability of, relationships of solidarity as care, which became a key form of support because of austerity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Geographical Journal
Early online date30 Jul 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jul 2023


  • Greece
  • Thessaloniki
  • austerity
  • lived experiences
  • social reproduction
  • utilities-based debt


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