© 2017

Contested Landscapes of Poverty and Homelessness In Southern Europe

Reflections from Athens


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Vassilis P. Arapoglou, Kostas Gounis
    Pages 1-13
  3. Vassilis P. Arapoglou, Kostas Gounis
    Pages 15-39
  4. Vassilis P. Arapoglou, Kostas Gounis
    Pages 41-62
  5. Vassilis P. Arapoglou, Kostas Gounis
    Pages 63-76
  6. Vassilis P. Arapoglou, Kostas Gounis
    Pages 77-88
  7. Vassilis P. Arapoglou, Kostas Gounis
    Pages 89-103
  8. Vassilis P. Arapoglou, Kostas Gounis
    Pages 105-116
  9. Vassilis P. Arapoglou, Kostas Gounis
    Pages 117-134
  10. Vassilis P. Arapoglou, Kostas Gounis
    Pages 135-141
  11. Back Matter
    Pages 143-149

About this book


The book uses Athens as a case study to identify the key features of urban anti-poverty policies in Greece and to discuss them in relation to policy developments in the crisis-ridden countries of Southern Europe. The idea of contested landscapes shapes the focus of the book on urban poverty and homelessness. Contested landscapes refer to the complex dynamics between visible and invisible poverty and to competing strategies on how to address them. The book takes a path-dependent view on the development of post-welfare arrangements, devolution, and pluralism that are being shaped by both neoliberal mentality, solidarity and communitarian practices. The authors draw on their own research and advocacy background in New York and Athens to shape their conceptual and methodological tools; however, rather than uncritically ‘importing’ North American and North European concepts to Greece, the book highlights the significance of distinctive Mediterranean features for analysing homelessness and anti-poverty policies. This will be a useful read for academics policy makers in areas of urban studies, sociology, social policy, human geography and anthropology.


Homelessness Poverty in Southern Europe Activism in Homelessness Community care Greece European Social Policy neoliberalism housing exclusion Recession and Housing austerity welfare devolution in Europe poverty management

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of CreteRethymnoGreece
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of CreteRethymnoGreece

About the authors

Vassilis P. Arapoglou is Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Crete, Greece. His research concentrates on poverty, residential segregation, the integration of migrants in cities, and urban social policies from a comparative perspective. 

Kostas Gounis is Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Crete, Greece. His research, initially undertaken in New York City, has dealt with homelessness, the survival strategies of the new urban poor and the role of psychiatry and mental health policy in addressing urban social problems.

Bibliographic information


“Firmly anchored in the relevant scholarship Contested Landscapes takes stock of the unsettled state of European homelessness, with special attention to Greece. The authors critically assess extant reports, provide area portraits of overlapping indices of need, and conduct original surveys, interviews and fieldwork. This is sociology with an unquiet heart – tempered but not stilled by reason, data and experience. Impatient with merely interpreting the dossier of unacknowledged need, the authors turn their attention to vernacular sites of improvisation and inclusion. The result is a deeply thought-through diagnostic of Southern European variants on rabble management and its discontents. Arapoglou and Gounis have revitalized the old cartographies of zones of discard and landscapes of despair to give us a portrait of what Durkheim would have recognized as the European soul. Only this time, with the politics restored, pockets of refusal and resistance also receive their due.” (Kim Hopper, Columbia University, New York)

“This book is about homelessness and poverty and the ways their relation is addressed under conditions of severe recession and neoliberal hegemony. Southern European cities are showcases not only of extreme recession conditions, lack of welfare policies know-how, imposed –or self-imposed– austerity regimes, but also of community-based alternatives to address social problems. A must-read towards understanding the barriers that obstruct the advancement of sustainable alternatives to poverty management.” (Thomas Maloutas, Harokopio University, Athens)

“This is the first book length analysis of homelessness in Southern Europe and represents a high quality, original contribution to the field. The case study of Athens is an illuminating account of the struggles, tensions and contradictions in responding to contemporary homelessness, where differing actors and ideologies clash over what they believe to be the cause of homelessness and in turn most appropriate response to homelessness.” (Eoin O’Sullivan, Trinity College, Dublin)

“Contested Landscapes is a superb analysis of new geographies of poverty and homelessness in Southern European cities, where IMF/EU policies of austerity have created vast populations of invisible and visible poor people. Combining history, geography, and ethnography, the authors paint landscapes of welfare state devolution, institutional responses to destitution, and communitarian efforts to alleviate exclusion, and homelessness. The refugee crisis throws the book’s already powerful conclusions into high relief.” (Jennifer Wolch, University of California, Berkeley)