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Precarity, debt and the social work profession in Greece through a political economy lens

PhD project title and outline, including interdisciplinary dimension:
Precarity, debt and the social work profession in Greece through a political economy lens

Traditionally, in western countries, social workers have dealt directly or indirectly with the phenomenon of precarity and/or debt through the lives of service users who live in poverty.

However, during the last decade, in many western countries, including Greece, precarity as insecurity is being experienced by social workers, not only in their professional lives but also in their personal lives (Pentaraki, 2017a&2017b).  These experiences have been intensified since the onset of recession in 2008. This led Pentaraki to coin the term shared austerity reality (2017a) to conceptualize these experiences. In the majority of western countries social spending cuts have undermined not only the lives of service users but also the lives of social workers. A country which has been especially harshly affected is Greece, where social works salaries have been decreased, insecurity levels have been increased and some survive on loans (Pentaraki, under review). The existing literature however, has not explored in detail the impact of debt in the lives of social workers. This is important as social workers are called to deal with service users who have found themselves in indebted situations yet at the same time they might need to address the consequences of debt they might face themselves. This creates a double bind situation for social workers which needs to be addressed further. The goal of this Ph.D. will be to explore these issues further through the lens of political economy (interdisciplinary dimension). The theoretical underpinning will be critical social theory. In addition to these questions another question will be to address how social workers understand their country’s  experiences as an indebted country. It is anticipated that the results of this Ph.D. thesis can answer how the social work profession should respond to questions of debt   both nationally and internationally. This question is of interest to professional associations of social work as well as to providers of social services. 

Primary Supervisor: Dr Maria Pentaraki (SSESW)
Secondary Supervisor: Dr John Karamichas (SSESW) 
External Partner/Organisation: Hellenic Association of Social Workers (SKLE)