Topic: Rural mobilities against social inertia in post-crisis Greece
Keywords: mobilities, migrants, quality of life, Greece
Since the early 1990s Greece was transformed from an emigration to an immigration country. During this time, the traditional flow of rural-to-urban migration was replaced by international migration coupled with counter-urbanization trends, contributing to new socioeconomic realities in rural Greece. Moreover, international migration has become an important aspect of local labour markets both in urban and rural areas of the country. However, since 2008 the economic recession has altered the socio-economic conditions in the country and deteriorated the integration prospects and challenges for migrants and natives. In the era of economic austerity, the various types of mobility are contested by social inertia in Greek rural areas.
Before the economic crisis the quality of life in rural areas prioritised living conditions over employment opportunities, but in the era of austerity it became more prevalent that living and working in rural areas should be seen in tandem. Along a number of issues such as employment opportunities, housing availability and conditions, education prospects, health services, etc. the local (permanent) population distinguishes its position from that of migrants and/ or refugees, thereby introducing new challenges for the future of rural areas.
Drawing from an empirical ongoing research in the context of the IMAJINE Project in Western Peloponnese in Greece, the paper aims at illustrating the complexity of mobilities that affect post – crisis rural Greece. By looking at the contested aspects of (im)mobility of locals and migrants living in the research area, the paper explores their individual and family strategies for social upgrading, improving their quality of life and/or competing for the same resources. Moreover, the analysis of the empirical findings sheds light on migrants’ perceptions and experiences regarding their quality of life and the way territorial inequalities affect their migration decisions. The paper argues that migrants’ decisions and strategies need to be seen in connection to local population expectations, in view of the new developments in rural areas and beyond the dominant debates of economic inequalities.
 The project “Integrative Mechanisms for Addressing Spatial Justice and Territorial Inequalities in Europe IMAJINE” has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, under Grant Agreement No. 726950.