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Solidarity rebooted: Trust and the rise of civil society in times of crisis

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Citizens’ distrust in political institutions has reached an all-time high in the European Union in recent years. Since the outbreak of the European sovereign debt crisis in 2009, the public’s faith in the community of nations has slumped, and EU institutions have made slow progress in regaining their citizens’ trust. What began as an economic crisis has sparked off mediated debates about European integration and therein about processes of exclusion and inclusion on multiple levels. Gradually, the media have turned their attention to national and supranational decisions as a means of solving the crisis. Not only the effectiveness and legitimacy of political decisions, but also the European Union per se, and any claims for European unity, were challenged in this process. Under these circumstances, we argue, there is a struggle over whose ‘voice’ is to be heard. Elites, political and financial in particular, have historically found in media a platform to be represented. Citizens’ voices, however, have not had this access. They pursue this by circumventing established media practices to generate and circulate counter-narratives to those of governments, financial corporations and the media. This article discusses the ways in which falling trust in institutions and institutions’ failure to maintain a welfare state, to resolve the crisis and to demonstrate solidarity as a matter of obligation to the EU constitutional underpinnings have reinforced the rise of civil society connectedness. Although, as we discuss, this is a wider European phenomenon, we examine the situation in a crisis hot zone, Greece, and the ways in which civil society has aimed to counterbalance a failing welfare state. The article aims to take stock of on-the-ground strategies of solidarity, which need to be understood not only against the backdrop of distrust and institutional failure, but also by the side of lack of acknowledgement and recognition and depoliticization of citizens’ dissent.
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Keywords: civil society; crisis; medicalization; political trust; resistance; solidarity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Vienna

Publication date: April 1, 2018

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  • The Journal of Greek Media & Culture is an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal that aims to provide a platform for debate and exploration of a wide range of manifestations of media and culture in and about Greece. The journal adopts a broad and inclusive approach to media and culture with reference to film, photography, literature, the visual arts, music, theatre, performance, as well as all forms of electronic media and expressions of popular culture. While providing a forum for the close analysis of cultural formations specific to Greece, JGMC aims to engage with broader methodological and theoretical debates, and situate the Greek case in global, diasporic and transnational contexts.
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