Greek Welfare Reform in a European Context
Greece is different. The chapters in this collection demonstrate that the Greek political, cultural and economic systems have particular characteristics that have shaped the development of social policy and now influence the possibilities for reform. As Petmesidou and Mossialos point out in Chapter 1, the Greek political system is best understood in terms of an eastern authoritarian statism, with an important role for paternalist and particularlist allocative practices which provide rich opportunities for the evolution of clientielist relationships. One result has been the development of sociopolitical cleavages between different groups on the basis of their success in establishing political credentials through access to the state and the resources it controls, alongside the patterns of class conflict and interests that became of central importance elsewhere in Europe. At the cultural level, the role of the family in providing support for members in the absence of universalist citizenship services and in mediating access to clientelist structures also cross-cuts other divisions. Industrialisation has played a major role only within the last generation, society being fundamentally agricultural until the 1970s. The Greek economy is characterised by relatively low productivity, which goes hand-in-hand with low labour costs and limited pressures for investment in advanced technology.