Rattling Europe's ordoliberal ‘iron cage’: the contestation of austerity in Southern Europe

Theodoros Papadopoulos, Antonios Roumpakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (SciVal)
122 Downloads (Pure)


This article explains the popular revolt against austerity in Southern Europe as the outcome of profound politico-economic changes that are shaped by the transformation of the European Union’s (EU’s) macro-economic governance. It comprises three parts. The first part demonstrates how ordoliberalism – the Germanic variant of (neo)liberal economic thinking – was embedded in the EU’s new macro-economic governance, in processes that constitutionalise austerity and remove democratic controls over the economy. The second part examines the impact of austerity-driven reforms on welfare and employment in the aftermath of the sovereign debt crisis. These reforms undermined the social reproduction of Southern Europe’s familistic welfare model by destabilising three key pillars of social protection: employment security for households’ primary earners; small property ownership; and pension adequacy. The third part analyses the emergence of anti-austerity social politics in Southern Europe, both parliamentary and grassroots, and assesses their effectiveness in light of the collapse of public trust in both EU and domestic political institutions. The article concludes with our reflections on the fragility of EU’s integration process under the hegemony of ordoliberalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 505–526
Number of pages22
JournalCritical Social Policy
Issue number3
Early online date30 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • European Union
  • Southern European welfare states
  • austerity
  • ordoliberalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Rattling Europe's ordoliberal ‘iron cage’: the contestation of austerity in Southern Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this