Etienne, Julien, (2013), “Controlled negative reciprocity between the state and civil society: the Greek case”, Hellenic Observatory of the European Institute at the LSE, June.
Rarely do discussions on state-society relationship meet with discussions on street-level encounters between members of civil society and state agents. This article intends to bridge this gap by discussing state-society relationships in Greece as they can be understood from a pattern of minor illegalities from the part of both state agents and members civil society, and non-enforcement. The approach consists in building from that pattern an ideal-type of mutual hostility and controlled negative reciprocity between state and society. Albeit produced through a multitude of unconnected and uncoordinated interactions between members of civil society and public rules/public agents, a relationship of controlled negative reciprocity holds as a coherent pattern, already discussed in previous works by Simmel, Campbell, Clastres and Gouldner. This ‘ideal-type’ contributes both the literature on state society relationships and the literature on regulatory encounters, and it sheds new light on contemporary Greece before and during the crisis.