Negli ultimi anni è stata da più parti sottolineata la necessità di un ritorno al territorio nello studio dei processi di aggregazione del consenso, con l’obiettivo di ridimensionare la consolidata narrazione – diffusa anche tra gli studiosi dei fenomeni politici – secondo cui i significativi cambiamenti degli ultimi decenni avrebbero contribuito a destituire la dimensione territoriale come unità di analisi rilevante per la comprensione dei mutamenti politici in atto.
Nella prospettiva proposta in questo numero, il concetto di locale non è assunto esclusivamente in quanto spazio circoscritto di osservazione di dinamiche connesse al livello politico nazionale. L’attenzione è rivolta alle specifiche declinazioni territoriali di culture politiche che risentono necessariamente dell’ambiente circostante e di dinamiche solo in parte legate alla proposta politica ufficiale dei partiti. Si tratta di una prospettiva eminentemente antropologica, ma che ha caratterizzato lo studio localizzato dei fenomeni di politics anche nell’ambito di altre discipline. Simboli e discorsi che si producono nel contesto locale sono qui presi in considerazione, da un lato, in quanto elementi costitutivi delle identità politiche dei soggetti, dall’altro, come fattori che ne veicolano le azioni e le pratiche quotidiane. In questa prospettiva, studiare la dimensione locale significa cogliere il politico anche (soprattutto) al di fuori degli spazi ufficialmente deputati alla politica. D’altra parte, ciò consente di ripensare da nuove prospettive problemi classici degli studi politici (e della tradizione critica di «Meridiana»), quali il clientelismo e il patronage, il consenso e la dipendenza, le subculture politiche e il populismo.
La proposta di questo numero nasce dunque dalla convinzione che per comprendere le pratiche dei partiti politici, le loro modalità di ricerca del consenso e di radicamento, occorre chiamare in causa elementi culturali; vale a dire non soltanto le consapevoli strategie, le ideologie o le dottrine, ma anche le reti di significati e i contesti morali in cui i diversi attori sociali si muovono, cruciali per definire il senso dei loro interessi e delle loro motivazioni. Per accedere a questo sfondo talvolta inespresso dell’azione sociale occorre uno scavo etnografico capace di cogliere il livello più sottile delle pratiche quotidiane, quel non detto che sta alla base della costruzione sociale della realtà.
Tutti i saggi presentati, sia di taglio etnografico che storiografico, cercano di comprendere lo specifico del politico nel quadro di retoriche sociali e di contesti morali più ampi. I contributi si soffermano per lo più sul territorio toscano e su alcune aree del Sud Italia, incontrando gli attivisti del Movimento 5 Stelle di Viareggio e gli eletti locali del Movimento per le autonomie in Sicilia, il ceto politico renziano a Firenze e i dirigenti comunisti siciliani del secondo dopoguerra, i contadini e i notabili di un borgo rurale del Molise e quelli siciliani di inizio Novecento.
Tutto è politica. Ma anche la politica è cultura
Fabio Dei e Antonio Vesco
Recent theoretical debates in anthropology are very critical towards «culturalist» approaches to social and political phenomena. All anthropology is political anthropology, it is often said, meaning that cultural differences are always under-determined by material conditions and power practices. But the dismissal of the concept of culture can dangerously open the way for the return of old forms of political-economic determinism. Politics (in the strict sense of the term) is therefore a useful field to test and rethink the relationships between culture and power. The texts collected in this issue of «Meridiana» are historical and ethnographic analyses of particular political actors and contexts, mainly concerning Southern Italy and Tuscany. In this introduction, we discuss some interpretive categories raised by the different essays, including: the territorial rooting of politics (parallel and not incompatible with its globalization and mediatization), clientelism, dependence and consensus, the crisis of subcultures (such as the red one in Tuscany), populism.
Keywords: Political cultures; Ethnography of politics; Clientelism; Populism.
Through a reading of Ernesto Laclau’s arguments on the construction of collective subjects, this article aims to provide a deeper understanding of identity-building practices of the Five Stars Movement (M5S) at the local level, eschewing a more common interpretation through the lens of populism and instead focusing on the shared practices of low-level activists. In particular, through a reappropriation of Laclau’s concept of democratic demand, I try to offer an ethnographic perspective on how relatively marginal subjects inside a supposedly populist political movement negotiate their positions relative to each other, and create a small but tightly-knit community in which to put the M5S’ ideals into practice.
Keywords: Populism; Social movements; Local politics; Activism.
The paper discusses the relationship between Giacomo Sedati, an impotant Christian Democrat politician, and his community, the rural village of Riccia in Molise. Sedati gathered huge electoral wins there, thanks to the support of the local farming and peasant world, such that he remained a member of Parliament and a Cabinet minister for almost 40 years. The processes of modernization, management of power and public resources in which he played a crucial role are analyzed starting from a corpus of oral traditions of local folklore that points to a political model of inter-class cooperation thanks to the role of the trade association of small farmers, the Coldiretti, and a wide range of forms of clientelism. The inter-class policy management mechanism works for a long time, yet the limits of Christian Democrat political action are evident at the level of culture and sociality in the field of civil society. After the Sedati era, local politics lost a leadership that could mediate social and territorial interests in a common vision of regional development in the name of class alliance between landowners and small farmers.
Keywords: Political culture; Clientelism; Peasents; Modernization.
This article is the result of two ethnographic studies carried out between 2009 and 2013 in various areas of Eastern Sicily among the leaders and local representatives of the Movimento per le autonomie (Mpa). The Mpa was a political party that referred to the autonomist history of the island and was rooted in particular in the area of Catania. It was founded in 2005 by a group of politicians who had started their long political careers in the Christian Democracy and was led by Raffaele Lombardo, who was the president of the Sicilian Region from 2008 to 2012. The government led by Lombardo was characterized by considerable instability and the party’s executive officers were continuously accused of clientelistic exchanges and corruption by political opponents and the media. My ethnographic research focused on the practices put in place by local candidates and the party leaders to get electoral success. Clientelism dynamics promoted within the Mpa are not only everyday practices lived and acted by the subjects: they are at the same time constantly enunciated by the latter, both in public debate and in the private sphere. The Mpa, therefore, was a peculiar observation point on the nature of the concept of clientelism, thought and disseminated by social scientists with reference to these territories, and on the forms in which it is used and rethought by subjects operating in the political sphere.
Keywords: Local politics; Political identities; Movimento per le autonomie; Clientelism.
This contribution analyses the transformation of the political system of Florence after Matteo Renzi’s political success, from the vantage point of councilmen and party officials. Tuscany, and partly Florence, are considered as a «red» area. Centre-left parties play a central role in the process of recruitment of political personnel and career development, and in managing relations with civil society. According to some local politicians, Renzi «unmasks» the end of that political tradition. He proposes a new way to play politics, based on primary elections to select political candidates, a limited role of political parties and more direct relations between politics and citizens. Has Renzi really changed the way to play politics in Florence through his calls for rottamazione? In the first part of the article, the author focuses on political features of Florence until Renzi’s rise to national politics. The Florentine political tradition is compared with Renzi’s proposal, underlining the differences between his leadership as a mayor and as the secretary of the Democratic Party. In the second part of the paper, the author identifies relevant elements of continuity with the red political culture that characterize both traditional politicians and Renzi’s political circle.
Keywords: Local political tradition; Playing politics; Leadership.
How are political representation relationships established? According to the theoretical framework adopted in this article, such relationships do not develop bottom/up, but top/down. It is the agent who invents its principal and not the principal who delegates and authorizes the agent. Adopting this perspective, this article revisits the formation of the Communist party in Sicily after World War II. The party exploited and organized the peasants’ and miners’ mobilization, equipping them with a political project and a common identity. In this way a small vanguard party became a mass party and one of the main actors of political life in post-war Sicily.
Keywords: Siciliy; Peasants; Italian Communist Party; Postwar.
Corti e lunghi circuiti politici. Il caso Nunzio Nasi
This article discusses the political relationship between the center and the periphery in liberal Italy. The case of Nunzio Nasi, a great Sicilian political notables of the early 1900s, is examined. His political history, at the moment of his great success, is intertwined with the birth of a regional discourse that exalts the local identity; and a national one against the notabiliate and the Sicilian political parties. Following a financial scandal, Nasi escaped abroad and then ended up in jail. His judicial affair seemed to many a persecution against Sicily. This is why Nasi was again triumphantly re-elected to the Chamber. But if you go to follow the story of his constituency in Palermo, you note the instrumentality of this discourse on local identity. In this work we insist a lot on the actors’ discourses, on their way of self-representation and self-legitimization. Research is conducted on different scales of sources and methods, from the micro to the macro. In this game of stairs it is possible to understand how political parties were heirs and at the same time guardians of ancient local traditions and notables.
Keywords: Notables; Parties; Political languages; Local identities.
The article here presented offers an analysis of Solidarity Purchasing Groups under the frame of the social innovation debate. By relying on two main axes of analysis that take into account the features of the territory in which the activities of the groups are embedded (economic vulnerability and density), it investigates how networks, institutions and cognitive frames – as theorised by Beckert (2010) – are effective in reducing the economic marginalisation of the beneficiaries of their activities, identified by small family farmers. The empirical investigation is based on 35 semi-structured interviews (completed by short organisational questionnaires) that investigate solidarity purchasing groups as organisations, focusing on their activities in favour of their suppliers. Results show that groups are rarely oriented towards local communities and their activities only rarely succeed in involving systematically their suppliers in the activities of the group.
Keywords: Solidarity purchasing groups; Marginalisation; Political consumerism; Social innovation.
This article is a first attempt to systematize the main measures taken in the Italian Republican era in order to adjust the cost of labor to local productivity conditions. After having illustrated, following the main reference literature, the ratio of such interventions, this study identifies some historical phases that are distinguished by differentiated policy tools. Once stressed the existence of a current stacked public debate on the issue, a number of interpretive keys are discussed to describe how the historical evolution of policies examined may have influenced public debate on a lasting basis.
Keywords: Labour cost; Public debate; Public policy analysis.
The use of threat and violence has always represented one of the distinctive features of Mafia’s action. In this regard, scholars mostly refer to a physical and tangible violence, usually performed by Mafia groups in a professional way in order to hit competitors and betrayers, enforce or break agreements and contracts, attack or protect markets and activities, foster reputation, impose territorial power, and influence beliefs and actions of their competitors and, more generally, of those who compose the wider social, political and economic context. A closer analysis, however, shows how these actions, supposedly oriented by an instrumental logics, are often driven by subtler dynamics, and do not necessarily disdain a symbolic and «political» meaning which could have a profound impact at social, communicative and strategic levels. This Forum gathers together scholars belonging to various disciplines – namely sociology and history, but with several incursions into cultural studies, political science, economics, anthropology and law – who address the characteristics, strategies, meanings and effects of Mafia violence in Italy, according to a comparative and diachronic approach which focuses on three main key-words: territories, contexts and practices/performances.
Keywords: Violence; Mafias; Italy; Society.
Dentro la violenza camorrista
In Naples it is very difficult to separate the children criminal issue from the adult criminal issue that has the face of the many gangs of camorra which act in a lot of parts of the city. In the metropolitan area of Naples, the urban question, the criminal issue of young people and the organized crime are an inextricable plot and a violent and tragic spy of a big unresolved social question. There is no clear separation of spaces, age, activities, social environments between child violence and camorra crime. Camorra is «the big sister», comprehensive and attentive, of deviant young people. If in other parts of Italy children’s crimes are mainly the consumption and sale of drugs, in Naples, besides drugs, there are robberies, snatching, extortion, use of weapons, murders and attempted murders. The places of origin of young violent people are almost always the same: the three criminal enclaves (historical center, suburbs and hinterland) where camorra lives now as in the past. In those areas there is a «self-sufficient society». Some neighborhoods seem to be characterized by a long continuity of social structures. They are made of habits, uses, customs, behaviors cemented in time and space. People who are born and live there make a real self-apartheid in which a «criminal autism» grows, like the Antonio Starace’s book shows.
Keywords: Camorra; Young people; Naples.