A Future Continuously Present: Everyday Economics in Greece
How is the future constituted as an object of knowledge, activity, and concern in the present? This dissertation poses this question in contemporary Greece, where long-unfolding processes of European integration and more recent experiences of acute crisis have made preoccupation with the future a central feature of everyday social life. To answer the question, the dissertation examines one prominent frame for thinking about and acting upon the future in Greece today—namely, practices and discourses oriented around the economy. The dissertation presents the findings of thirty months of ethnographic study of lay and expert activity ranging from economists running macroeconomic models and policy makers devising national taxation schemes to activists operating alternative distribution networks and pensioners visiting the bank. The account moves through three orders of inquiry. First, it traces how economic practices and discourses constitute the future as an object in the present and describes the contours of this future. Second, it demonstrates how the economy becomes a routine and legitimate frame for thinking about and acting on the future in the present. Third, it shows how the economy’s work on the future shapes everyday understandings and experiences of the economy and the nation. Ultimately, the dissertation not only addresses the initial question of how the future is constituted in the present, but also gives an account of how the future operates as a key site for establishing and contesting claims to knowledge, legitimacy, and belonging in this present.