The Domestication of Welfare from Below. Perspectives and Contradictions among Roman Squatters
Rome has always had an enormous «housing issue» related to its inconsistent urban development, driven mostly by individual family needs (self-construction) and the private interest of developers. This condition has spurred since the 1960s a widespread movement of squatters, often organized along political lines. This paper tries to assess the feasibility of squatting as an alternative to state, market or family driven forms of housing welfare presenting Rome as a case study. A comparison between the original squatters from the 1960s and those currently organizing occupations is rstly presented to highlight structural differences. Using short ethnographic portraits, the second part of the paper sketches the ideology of the movement as an intentional attempt to produce new forms of sociality and urban life, while the third paragraph reports the overall negative image of any kind of squatting by media and governmental politics. In the conclusive paragraph a basic contradiction of Roman squatting is given central attention. While the political leadership wants to transcend the bourgeois forms of urban and family life, in order to achieve that aim they have to resort as their rank and le to families that often highjack that goal to be included instead into an ordinary process of «family welfarization» of their emerging bourgeois housing needs.
Keywords: Housing need; Urban anthropology; Squatters