Religiously Oriented Welfare Organizations in Italy Before and After the Great Recession: Toward a More Relevant Role in the Provision of Social Services?
This chapter investigates the role played by religious organizations (i.e., Catholic organizations) within the Italian welfare system, focusing on social services. In a long-term perspective, the role played by Catholic organizations has been crucial as far as the specific trajectory of development taken by the Italian system of social services is concerned. Moreover, over the past decades, this relevance seems to have increased due to specific institutional reforms, which have strongly supported a process of “subsidiarization” of social policies, as well as the impact of the current economic recession with the related increase in terms of demand for social services. However, given the fact that this relevance has arisen in a context of welfare state retrenchment and inertia of decision makers, a potential risk for Catholic organizations today is that of playing a more substitutive role (rather than a complementary one) in the delivery of social services, thus exacerbating the overall degree of territorial fragmentation and inequalities existing within Italian society.