In a 1981 article, Kubat and Hoffmann-Nowotny inverted an underlying assumption in most migration theories: namely, the belief that people are essentially sedentary. Claiming that people are mobile by nature meant subscribing to yet another essentialism. However, despite its crudeness, their thesis does have analytical value in deconstructing the belief that people are free agents and highlighting that individual migrants decide whether or not to move within social and discursive constraints. This paper explores this issue by focusing on the Greek emigration that followed the country’s economic crisis. It draws on 34 in-depth interviews with Greek migrants in Amsterdam and London, and data from a survey conducted in Greater London and the Netherlands. Recession and austerity in Greece has made migration a survival strategy for several people. However, there are many more, in less pressing need, also leaving the country who present their migration as something they were considering already long ago. Focusing on the latter category, the paper discusses how the crisis in Greece has altered everyday discourse on emigration and loosened up social constraints towards long distance mobility, ultimately altering the emigration environment in the country. It further suggests that emigration may be expected to continue irrespectively of the developments in terms of the Greek economy’s performance.


Greek crisis, Greek emigration, emigration environment, migration decision making, migration aspirations.