Squatted Social Centres Activists and ‘Locally Unwanted Land Use’ Movements in Italy: A Comparative Analysis Between Two Case Studies

  • Gianni PiazzaEmail author
  • Federica Frazzetta
Part of the The Contemporary City book series (TCONTCI)


Squatted Social Centres are urban protest actors, but not only. They are spatially localised in the city centres or in the peripheral/working-class districts, but their reach of action is often also regional, national, and global. In fact, they are often engaged in broader protest campaigns and social movements. In particular, research on LULU—Locally Unwanted Land Use movements in Italy has highlighted as Social Centres activists are central actors, bringing generational resources, political-organisational experiences, and repertoires of action. While often labelled as violent by the media and the authorities, they are integrated into protest networks through their participation in mobilisations and a growth in bonds of mutual trust, contributing to turn the struggle from NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) to NOPE (Not On the Planet Earth). They nevertheless can bring elements of internal tensions to the movement with respect to more moderate and institutional actors involved. In this paper, based on previous and current field research—participant observation, semi-structured interviews—we focus on the role played by Social Centres activists within two LULU movements in Italy, the No TAV and No MUOS movements. The interactions of the Social Centres militants with other movement groups and activists have been analysed, highlighting both the internal tensions and conflicting and cooperative relations. We have confirmed their ability to attract youth participation and to favour the cross-issues and cross-territorial scale shift, but we have also noted their ability to maintain the unity of the movement, notwithstanding the large difference with other groups. Moreover, the positive and negative feedbacks of their involvement in the LULU movements have been pointed out, as well as the differences in terms of modalities of cross-fertilisation with other movement members and of geographical characteristics affecting the level of participation. Lastly, we have noted the ability of SCs activists to involve their “urban constituency” in extra-urban mobilisations, and to mobilise together for a common goal with other groups and organisations, with whom they usually have difficult relationships, of non-collaboration or even open conflict.


Social movements Social centres Lulu movements Urban activism Italy 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CataniaCataniaItaly

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