Youth Precariat Worlds and Protest Graffiti in The Dystopia of the Greek Economic Crisis: A Cross-Disciplinary Perspective

Yiannis Zaimakis

Punctum, 2(2): 66-84, 2016
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2015.0017

Abstract

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork during the times of economic crisis, this article addresses protest graffiti created by young people, often living in precarious conditions. The text explores the uncertain living conditions of Greek youth in the era of austerity and investigates the graffiti act as a cultural tool through which a young graffitists seeks alternative modes to express its dissatisfaction, protest and, often, readiness for social change. It employs a socio-semiotic analysis combining a biographical approach of graffiti writers’ lived experiences and the semiotic analysis of graffiti creation within the specific social and cultural context in which the very act of graffiti is performed. Exploring the social world of politically themed or existentialism-oriented graffiti in various Greek cities, the analysis shed light on the structures of feeling of young people living under adverse conditions, revealing social and aesthetic trends, expressive forms of social protest, and existential quests within Greek youth. The research findings show that the scene of political-existential graffiti is an encounter between the subversive aesthetic aura of graffiti with the counter-austerity movement’s repertory of collective action in the ongoing struggle against austerity policies.

KEYWORDS: Youth, precariat, political graffiti, socio-semiotic analysis, biographical approach
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