Alexandros Baltzis, Nikolaos Tsigilis

(Un)Making Europe: Capitalism, Solidarities, Subjectivities
13th Conference of the European Sociological Association
European Sociological Association
Hellenic Sociological Society
Panteion University, Athens
Harokopio University, Athens
Athens, August 29 - September 1, 2017



The paper presents some results of an original survey in a sample of 591 visual artists in Greece, focusing on their living and working conditions. This sample represents 10% of the total members of the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece (margin of error ±3.82%, 95% confidence interval). The questionnaire includes over 250 variables embracing a wide range of issues, including standard indicators of material deprivation, as well as questions comparing the situation before and after the introduction of the austerity programmes. The research was carried out in collaboration with the Thessaloniki Center of Contemporary Art of the State Museum of Contemporary Art and supported by the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece. Technical support was provided by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. This survey is the first of its kind carried out in the country. The survey is part of a wider attempt to study cultural work in Greece and it is based on previous exploratory study with focus groups about the working conditions of visual artists and film makers (see Baltzis & Pantazis, 2016).

To comply with the peculiarities of the visual artists, an overall index of economic strain was calculated enhancing the standard material deprivation inventory of indicators with the enforced inability to afford an atelier (Cronbach’s Alpha = .893). Analysis of variance showed that respondents answer consistently about their income, their living conditions, and the changes in their working conditions. This consistency allowed the use of the variables as reliable indicators of the consequences of the austerity policies for the visual artists. The overall index of economic strain was used to analyze variables comparing the living and working conditions of visual artists before and after the introduction of the austerity policies. The findings show that visual artists in Greece face severe material deprivation to a greater extend (68.8%) compared to the general population (22.2%). Therefore, extended deprivation of the material conditions required to work as a visual artist, was found in Greece.

Based on the standard European Socio-Economic Classification (ESeC 5), modified by researchers at the National Centre for Social Research to comply with the Greek society, the social origin of the visual artists was examined. The findings suggest that the intergenerational mobility, which represents a tendency of democratization in the field of the arts, does not make it easier to cope with extended economic strain and material deprivation. They also show that social inequality is intensified among visual artists, as those who face economic strain and material deprivation to a greater extent, originate from lower socio-economic strata.

Finally, the findings suggest that further research on the working and living conditions is required in other artistic sectors as well, while the issues raised, require consideration by cultural and economic policy decision makers.