Alexandra’s view on postcapitalism. – A contribution to mέta.
After more than 20 years dedicated to sociologically studying the younger generation, I could not express myself in any other way than through these studies, which have largely determined my political contribution to the Left.
Returning to these surveys over and over again and completing a study on the Greek brain drain, I arrive at the conclusion that, behind the ‘empirical data’, the central question is that of the relationship between the emotions and feelings of young people with movements and politics.
Attempting to codify these findings, I would say that what haunts young people aged 16-30 is anger or… angers in the plural. Political, social, existential. Anger and rage that often transcend, without negating, class backgrounds, national or ethnic origins, gender discrimination, and inequalities.
An anger which, however, conceals socio-political dimensions that we are called to pay attention to:
- Anti-systemicism: In all surveys, young men and women appear deeply frustrated with the existing system, even if they do not know how to name the ‘enemy’, even when they are content with a slogan (in the Greek case, e.g., about the prime minister or with a lyric by their favourite rapper Lex).
- Decrystallisation: when they do manage to talk about the system, the words that come back are ‘international interference’ or ‘financial capitalism’. Or, still, the media as accomplices of the system.
- Disparagement: Anger is expressed, primarily, by students and graduates with master’s and doctoral degrees. The pathways that a degree would be expected to open up lead to economic and social deprivation and psycho-social frustrations: job insecurity, precarity, lack of independent abode, the reality of being trapped in the parental apartment, fragmented leisure time, inability to find creative activities, etc.
It is precisely these frustrations and anger that sometimes drive them to spontaneous movements and sometimes to fixation and resignation.
Today’s young people, who grew up in democratic systems and live in the world of online communication, have different expectations of democracy than the generation of May ’68 or the ’73 Athens Polytechnic uprising. They do not necessarily clash with the previous generation, they do not consider it ‘conservative’. They often demand broader rights that touch upon all generations. They also claim directness in communication, clarity and honesty.
At the political level, they make no secret of their dislike of politics and their lack of trust in politicians. When they vote, they often turn to the left of the traditional left or to the right of the conservative right, to the far right (especially those who have not attended a university). Their antisystemic vision rejects the centrist positions and the ‘wooden language’ of traditional political representatives.
Almost naturally, therefore, they choose to abstain from the electoral system. An abstention that expresses them, because they believe that no one counts them, that contempt for their real lives is hidden behind big words designed to hijack their vote.
And yet young people are hungry for life and creativity. They are looking for representatives that understand society and politics differently. Personalities who are touched by the subjective and emotional side of their lives.
We are therefore called upon to reflect on and redefine the existential trials of young people, leaving statistics aside for a moment. To see their faces, as I often see them in university halls and cafeterias. As I encountered them in Yannis Varoufakis’ book, ‘Another Now’. To encounter persons of youthful drive, embarrassment and frustration. Faces in search of another, unrealised, relationship with the self and the other; in their workspaces, in leisure and culture, in the university, in sexual expression, in friendships.
I have the feeling that it is precisely this multispectred, radical universe that I discovered in the surveys, as well as in ‘Another Now’ , that is worth conveying to young people by saying that, indeed, capitalism is dead. And that another world is asking to be born ‘without bosses and banks, stock markets and digital giants, billionaires and state authoritarianisms’.
My research discloses to me that this is the world they dream of. A different world to exist in. And that in order for this world to be engendered, it is not enough to merely angrily speak out angrily against the dominant system, as Iris does in ‘Another Now’.
There is no ‘secret vaccine against loneliness’. For this, they need to work employing all the means they have and we have —knowledge, science, cinema, the arts— and by echoing Yanis Varoufakis’ question: How far are we willing to go to conquer the dream? I believe that most young people will readily respond. Through their relationship with themselves, the relationship between themselves and the world, their need to build the social bonds that make society a social body from scratch. Through the ordeal of trauma. Here and now and… mέta.
Alexandra Koronaiou was born in Piraeus and studied at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Ioannina. Afterwards, she studied at the School of Social Sciences of the University of Paris V. She has been Professor of Sociology at Panteion University since 1998. Dean of the School of Social Sciences (2017-2021). Member of the Board of Directors of INEDIVIM (2015-2016), Vice-Chair of the Scientific Council of Social Sciences and member of the Advisory Committee of the IEP for the development of books in the social sciences (2017-2018).
Since 2021 she has been a member of the General Assembly of the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (EL.ID.E.K).
Since 2011 she has been the scientific manager of the following European research projects:
1) MYPLACE (Memory, Youth, Political Legacy and Civic Engagement, FP7, 2011-2015, http://www.fp7-myplace.eu/);
2) MYWEB (Measuring Youth Well-Being, FP7, 2014-2016, http://fp7-myweb.eu/).
3) INNOSI (Innovative Social Investment: Strengthening Communities in Europe, Horizon 2020, 2015-2017, http://innosi.eu/).
4) DARE (Dialogue about Radicalisation and Equality, Horizon 2020, 2017-2021)
5) CoSIE (Co-creation of Service Innovation in Europe, Horizon 2020, 2017-2020)
6) ECDP (European Cohort Development Project, Horizon 2020, 2018-2019)
7) Transitions, Emigration and Politics (TEmPo 2019-2023)
The Programme is funded by ELIDEK.
Publications in academic journals and collective works (selection)
1 Koronaiou, A. et al. (2018) Attitudes towards the EU among young people in Eastern Germany, Greece, and the UK: embedding survey data within socio-historical context In H.Pilkington and G.Pollock (eds.), Understanding youth participation across Europe, London: Palgrave Macmillan.
2. Alexandra Koronaiou & Alexandros Sakellariou (2018) “Young People, Transition to Adulthood and Recession in Greece: in Search of a Better Future”, in S.Irwin, A.Nilsen (eds.), Transitions to Adulthood through Recession: youth and inequality in a European Comparative Perspective, Abingdon: Routledge, pp.156-175.
3. Alexandra Koronaiou & Alexandros Sakellariou (2017) ‘Women and Golden Dawn: Reproducing the nationalist habitus’, Special Issue, Gender & Education, 29 (2): 258-275.
4. Koronaiou, A. and Sakellariou, A. (2017). “At the other side of the wall: the passage from employment to unemployment” In Ch. Karakioulafi and M.Spyridakis (eds.), Society, unemployment and social reproduction, Athens: Gutenberg.
5 Koronaiou at al. (2015) “Golden Dawn, austerity and young people: the rise of fascist extremism among young people in contemporary Greek society” in H.Pilkington and G.Pollock (eds.), Radical Futures? Youth, Politics and Activism in Contemporary Europe, The Sociological Review Monograph Series, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.
6. Koronaiou, A., Lagos, E., Sakellariou, A. (2015). “Singing for race and nation: Fascism and racism in Greek youth music”. In P.Simpson and H.Druxes (eds.), Digital Media Strategies of the Far Right in Europe and the United States, Lanham: Lexington Books.
7. Koronaiou, A. and Sakellariou, A. (2013). “Reflections on ‘Golden Dawn’, community organizing and nationalist solidarity: helping (only) Greeks”, Community Development Journal, vol.48, no.2, pp.332-338.
8. Koronaiou, A. (2010). “Women’s leisure in Greece: fighting for a time of one’s own”. In M.T. Segal, and V. Demos (eds.), Advances in Gender Research, USA: Publishing Emerald Group
9. Koronaiou, A. (2010), Women’s Free Time as a Precondition for the Development of Adult Education”. In A. Kokkos and D. Vergidis (eds.), Adult Education: International Approaches and Greek Trajectories, Athens: Metehmio.
10. Koronaiou, A. (2009), “Free Time and Recreation Spaces for the Albanian Immigrants in Greece”. In M. Spyridakis (ed.), Space Transformations: Social and Cultural Dimensions, Athens: Nissos.
11. Koronaiou, A. (2002). “Young employees and the social meanings of work”. In K. Navridis (ed.), Power, Violence, Pain, Athens: Kastaniotis.
Research monographs (Books)
1. Koronaiou, A. (1995). Youth and Media of Mass Communication, Athens: Odysseas
2. Koronaiou, A. (1996). Sociology of Leisure Time, Athens: Nissos
3. Koronaiou, A. (2002). Educating Outside School, Athens: Metehmio
4. Koronaiou, A. (2007). The Role of Fathers in Balancing Professional and Family-Private Life, Athens: KETHI
5. Koronaiou, A. (2010). When Work Becomes Illness, Athens: Pedio
Other articles and studies on youth socio-political participation, work, leisure and media have been published in scientific journals and the press.