ces papers - open forum # 13, 2012
Drawing primarily on new institutionalist approaches to Europeanization and the institutional theory of trust,and based on critical evaluation of the post-authoritarian period in terms of institutional and policy evolution,this paper argues that the situation in Greece over the last decade or so characterized by relatively high levels of corruption and inequality and low levels of social and institutional trust has constituted a vicious circle that can be conceptualized as a “multiple/institutional equilibrium”. In this respect, the current period of institutional and policy change should be viewed as a “critical juncture”, actually a consequence of the external shock facing thecountry, marked by the serious economic and political crises over the last two to three years. Yet, given that cor
ruption, inequality and lack of trust are characterized as rather “sticky” phenomena, the paper, differentiating -upto a point- from other theories of transition/change, such as cultural, modernization and/or late industrializationtheories, provides evidence of the Greek paradox, namely that this vicious circle is a relatively recent phenom
enon that can be traced back to the post-authoritarianism, and in particular post-EU accession period, the mainfeature of which, however, has been incremental institutional and policy change. In other words, the vicious circlecan itself be considered as a side-effect or byproduct of inadequacies/failures of the adjustment and/or moderniza
tion processes themselves. In accounting for this phenomenon, the paper points to the congruence of cheap credit,on the one hand, as a result of Greece’s accession into the Eurozone, and the long-established weakness of thedomestic institutional infrastructure, on the other, identied primarily with political clientelism and/or low “qual
ity of government”. A key feature of this weakness has been the predominant role of rent-seeking interest groupsin Greece’s policy-making structure at the expense of (civil) society. This phenomenon, however, is closely linkedto the predominance of particularized (“amoral familism”-like) over generalized/social trust, which constitutes akey feature of Greece’s institutional infrastructure. Thus the lack of social trust is identied as a key intervening/explanatory variable within the research hypotheses of this paper.
Christos J. Paraskevopoulos
Associate Professor of Political Science & European Public Pol
icy at the University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University from January to July 2012. He can be reached via email at: email@example.com (ofce),or firstname.lastname@example.org (home).