This article introduces the concept of an emerging shared austerity reality, which refers to the socio-economic context of austerity that is shared both by social workers and service users, albeit to different degrees. Traditionally, the concept of the shared reality has been utilized to encompass the experiences of welfare professionals working in situations where both they and service users are exposed to the adverse effects of a natural disaster, war or terrorist attack. Here, the concept of shared reality is expanded through the introduction of the context of austerity. Drawing on 21 in-depth interviews with public sector social work practitioners in Greece it discusses, among other things, social anxieties about their children’s future, and their inability to take care of their elderly relatives that suggest an emerging shared austerity reality, reflecting the deterioration of socio-economic conditions. The paper ends with a discussion about the possibilities of alliance and division that emerge from the concept and future research directions. Moreover, it concludes with a reflection on the role of the social work profession and recent political developments in Greece in anti-austerity struggles.
- Shared reality, neoliberalism, social work in austerity, grounded hope