Everyday politics of austerity: Infrastructure and vulnerability in times of crisis

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Petrova Saska
Prodromidou Alexandra
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Growing numbers of households in Greece are unable to secure adequate levels of energy services in the home – a condition generally known as energy poverty. This situation can largely be attributed to the imposition of an austerity regime following the post-2008 debt crisis. We scrutinize the everyday experiences of, and resistance to, austerity among the ‘new energy poor’ – an emergent socio-demographic group whose vulnerability is contingent upon decreasing incomes, high prices, new taxation and inadequate socio-technical infrastructures. Having undertaken ethnographic research with 25 households living in and around the Northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, we draw on theoretical insights from the domains of informal household practices and environmentality frameworks to highlight the manner in which the austerity regime simultaneously renders households vulnerable and governable. The geographies of the new energy poor include a variety of spatial settings – inurban and peri-urban locations alike – that are constitutive of multiple material sites while being dependent upon them. This points to the existence of an infrastructurally embedded everyday landscape of austerity that amalgamates the state policies, corporate interests, household practices and material pathways through which energy is produced and consumed.
Petrova, S. and Prodromidou, A. (2019) ‘Everyday politics of austerity: Infrastructure and vulnerability in times of crisis’, Environment and planning., 37(8), pp. 1380–1399. doi:10.1177/2399654419831293.