‘Change’ describes people’s most common experience. The year 2010, when the crisis hit Greece, stands as a very clear watershed. Hardly anything has been the same since then: jobs and working patterns, eating and leisure, how the past and the future are viewed, with new hopes, fears, and dilemmas marking all aspects of private and public life. On the other hand, experiences and options vary widely, depending on one’s income, age, gender, and, of course, ethnicity.
The material changes are of course the most visible and most directly felt. Read how the crisis has affected everyday eating habits in our interview with ‘Sophia’, who owns a restaurant in a relatively affluent suburb of Athens.
Emotional changes are less easy to detect. Statistics is of course always at hand to give us some idea. For example, Greeks were officially declared in 2013 as the unhappiest people in Europe. But numbers tell only a slice of the full story. How is it really to live through a crisis? How does one’s life and perceptions get affected? And what about the common culture and society?
The study of the effects of the crisis on the everyday lives of the people in Greece is a major challenge for the researcher and the historian. Much work is needed on the human history of the crisis. We need a narrative that connects the statistical dots with the individual experiences, that tells the stories that are buried under the mass media catchlines and priorities.
But, on the other hand, immersing ourselves in individual stories must not stop us from finally formulating a political view of people’s histories – a view that has wide time and space horizons.
It is, for example, very interesting to explore whether people’s experiences are only reactive, dealing with the problems posed by the policies of the governing elites, or if they have the willingness to generate their own dynamic, for something alternatively new, that moves beyond the individual and encompasses the whole of the society. This (hidden) potential is in all observers’ minds. At its end the Right tends to see National Regeneration, while the Left likes to sees Revolution.
last edited: 27 May 2014