Global restructuring and resistance in an age of austerity: a critical political economy of the Eurozone crisis in Greece and Portugal

Jordan, Jamie (2017) Global restructuring and resistance in an age of austerity: a critical political economy of the Eurozone crisis in Greece and Portugal. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis analyses the political economic origins of, and responses to, the eurozone crisis in Greece and Portugal. Part 1 develops a Critical Political Economy (CPE) approach to studying the economic development of European capitalism(s). The development of this CPE approach takes place through a critical engagement with authors employing a Varieties of Capitalism Approach (VoC). This critique is considered important as the VoC approach offers an institutionalist theory of capitalist diversity. Instead, what is required when explaining trajectories of development, change and contestation across European varieties of capitalism is a capitalist theory of institutional diversity. In other words, whilst varieties of capitalism do evidently exist, the institutional diversity they exhibit (whether it be path-dependent or transformed) is always and already embedded as varieties in capitalism. This has to be taken seriously to adequately explain the systemic origins of, and responses to, the eurozone crisis in Greece and Portugal.

Part 2 focuses on the historical origins of the eurozone crisis (1985-2009). It highlights the constitutive role that European integration, both as a supranational institutional and a transnationalising capitalist project, has played in shaping Greece’s and Portugal’s uneven and combined political economic trajectories towards crisis. It also focuses on the agency of class forces within each national political economy, and how this hegemonic project was internalised and conditioned by specific national dynamics that sought to pursue developmental ‘catch-up’ with ‘core’ European states. Empirically, this is analysed along two lines. The first focuses on the inability of each political economy to generate export-led growth that may have offset the accumulation of large amounts of externally-held debt. Here, the role of transnational capital and of new emerging competition in the ‘global south’ and Europe is highlighted. The second focuses on institutional transformations driven particularly by the prerogatives of European integration. This is specifically in relation to the privatisation and liberalisation of financial banking sectors, which led to the emergence of debt-led accumulation and economic growth.

Part 3 focuses on the political economic responses to the eurozone crisis in Greece and Portugal (2010-2016). The primary aim of this section is to analyse the political economy of ‘expansionary austerity’ that has been presented as a technocratic means by which to pursue an ‘exit’ from the crisis. Repoliticising the response demonstrates how a shift in the balance of class forces across both political economies has taken place as capitalist discipline and domination is deepened and expanded, reinforced by a turn towards ‘authoritarian neoliberalism’. Further, analysis of the response to the crisis would suffer considerably if conducted on the basis that the attempt to deepen and expand capitalist domination faced little contest. The principles and policies of expansionary austerity, enacted through fiscal austerity and global capitalist restructuring, have faced resistance and alternative forms of political economic organisation from labour. The second predominant aim of Part 3 is to focus on how labour (broadly defined) has struggled against, and have proposed and practiced alternatives beyond, the conditionality deemed a necessity within the MoUs and the capitalist domination inherent to these. The thesis concludes by discussing the wider implications of the eurozone crisis for Europe’s political economy as a whole, and Greece’s and Portugal’s future within it.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Bieler, Andreas
Burns, Tony
Subjects: H Social sciences > HB Economic theory
H Social sciences > HC Economic history and conditions
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Politics and International Relations
Item ID: 43963
Depositing User: Jordan, Jamie
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2017 04:40
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2017 08:26

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