International Workshop

Rationalist visions, spontaneous urbanisation and clientelism
The post-war development of the Greek capital and the expectations of C. Doxiadis
Thomas Maloutas
with the collaboration of George Kandylis
(University of Thessaly)
During the first three post-war decades Athens became a vortex transforming the incoming rural population to groups with high upward social mobility. Unlike the urbanisation model led by industrial development, the rapid growth of the Greek capital in the post-war years followed a South European urbanisation version where the city's own growth (due to the depletion of rural areas for both economic and political reasons) created what a posteriori seems a self-winding economic dynamic led by building and related small industrial activity as well as consumer and personal services. The wide social diffusion of owner occupied housing became pivotal within this urbanisation model as the principal element of integration to the urban society, offering the stability and security that the rather volatile labour market could not provide, and complementing the other pillars of social mobility, i.e., the small family business and employment in the public sector. An important feature of the processes that shaped the city's social as well as spatial structures during this period was the central role of the family as the locus of housing and employment strategies, while the state, in a clientelist mode and in varied ways, secured the necessary resources for effective family strategies and reduced its own direct intervention in the process. As a result Athens was shaped in its social function and its spatial form as the aggregation of a multitude of uncoordinated individual strategies and initiatives rather than as the planned outcome that canalised the expected social dynamic in specific ways.

In this paper we will revisit the ideas, expectations and proposals of C. Doxiadis concerning Athens and its future as a social fabric, place them within the social, political and intellectual context in which they were engendered and contrast their modernist/rationalist substance to what has later prevailed.