Sotiropoulos, A. D. & Bourikos, D. (2014) “Economic Crisis, Social Solidarity and the Voluntary Sector in Greece: Summary report of the Crisis Observatory research project on the social consequences of the economic crisis in Greece and the response of civil society organizations to the crisis”, Crisis Observatory, 10 April.
After the onset of the economic crisis in Greece, the social situation of middle- and low-income groups deteriorated rapidly. As the welfare state was receding, owing to the government’s drive towards fiscal consolidation, social protection became sparse. Formal organizations, such as NGOs, were starved of state funding and turned to not-for-profit foundations and private sources for funding, while also relying on volunteer work and contributions in kind. NGOs active in social solidarity started catering not only to socially excluded groups of the Greek society and foreign migrants and refugees (who used to be their main target-groups before 2010), but also to newly impoverished Greek citizens seeking to obtain social services and basic consumer goods. In parallel, informal social networks and self-help groups emerged and became active in exchange and distribution of goods and services, healthcare, education, food and shelter provision, offering simultaneously a more critical view towards the state and seeking alternative forms of social organization. Field research and interviews with representatives of NGOs and informal organizations, conducted in 2013 in Athens, show that social solidarity has expanded, organizations have developed and have adapted to the new social needs of the population, but certainly could not and should not replace the welfare state which ought to be rebuilt. Nevertheless, policy proposals are put forward with the aim of making both formal and informal social solidarity organizations more sustainable, accountable, transparent and effective.