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Digitally and Non-Digitally-Enabled Collective Action in Greece in Times of Crisis

Vasiliki (Vicky) Triga
Cyprus University of Technology
Vasileios Manavopoulos
University of Cyprus
Vasiliki (Vicky) Triga
Cyprus University of Technology

Abstract

In 2009 Greece was hit by a massive financial crisis that has forced three successive governments to enact intensive austerity measures for avoiding a potential exit from the euro-zone. Early on in the crisis, Greece became the epicenter of social protest with violent and non-violent reactions by citizens and organized social movements, that were represented by both traditional (e.g. unions) and new formations (e.g. “Indignados”). Although this collective action cannot but have been influenced and, perhaps, facilitated by the availability of new ICTs, the extent of their use remains unknown. The use of ICTs varies from using the Internet simply to disseminate information by top-down organizational forms, to enabling active engagement and participation, such as direct trade networks between producers and consumers. So ICTs have influenced, and we argue, to a degree fundamentally altered collective action. In order to examine the effect of ICTs on collective action in this context, a first step in our analysis is to identify all active groups that have been engaged in any kind of collective action since the beginning of the crisis and classify them into groups according to the kind of grievance they address and their formal “demographic” characteristics. The emerging typology allows for a quantitative analysis of the extent to which online (or offline) mechanisms are used for the mobilisation, participation and engagement of members and potential participants. On the basis of this typology, the second analytical step involves the selection of a specific category of collective action group. In this category an in-depth analysis is conducted on two case-studies (one with low and one with high online activity) in order to unfold the reasons why ICTs have been a basic mechanism that leads to group processes that differ significantly from a similar group that uses offline mechanisms of action.