“If Not Now, When?”: Young Italian People and the Occupied Social Centre

  • Ilaria Pitti


This chapter presents a case study realised within a centro sociale (social centre) created in an occupied barrack by a group of Italian young people dealing with the difficulties exacerbated by the crisis and the austerity measures. The case study, conducted through participant observation and biographical interviews with the young activists of the social centre, explores how young individuals try to get back a control on their present and on their future through the self-managed space. The analysis of the practices of engagement makes it possible to underline how young people engage in a series of processes of re-elaboration of existing physical and symbolic objects, socio-economic models, and socio-political tools to create a new world in the shell of the old one.


Social movements Italy Centro sociale Unconventional political participation Lost generation Prefigurative politics 


  1. Adinolfi, Francesco, Marco Bascetta, Marco Grispigni, Massimo Giannetti, Primo Moroni, Livio Quagliata, and Benedetto Vecchi. 1994. Comunità virtuali: i centri sociali in Italia. Roma: Manifestolibri.Google Scholar
  2. Argentin, Gianluca. 2015. “New generation at the crossroad. Decline or change? Young people in Italy and their transformation since the nineties.” In Handbook of contemporary Italy, edited by Andrea Mammone, Ercole Giap Parini and Giuseppe Veltri. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Berardi, Franco. 1997. La nefasta utopia di Potere Operaio. Roma: ProdigoLibri.Google Scholar
  4. Bertolini, Sonia, Magda Bolzoni, Chiara Ghisleri, Valentina Goglio, Simone Martino, Antonella Meo, Valentina Bosio, Rosy Musumeci, Roberta Ricucci, and Paola Maria Torrioni. 2017. “Socioeconomic consequences of job insecurity and subjective poverty among Youth in Italy”. In Medium-term economic consequences of insecure labour market positions, edited by Dirk Hofäcker. Tallinn: Tallinn University.Google Scholar
  5. Bosi, Lorenzo, and Lorenzo Zamponi. 2015. “Direct social action and economic crisis: the relationship between forms of action and socio-economic context in Italy.” Partecipazione e conflitto 8(2):367–391
  6. Bottini, Fabrizio. ed. 2010. Spazio pubblico. Declino, difesa, riconquista. Roma: Ediesse.Google Scholar
  7. Cattaneo, Claudio, and Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro. 2015. “Urban squats as eco-social resistance to and resilience in the face of capitalist relations: case studies from Barcelona and Rome.” Partecipazione e Conflitto 8 (2):343–66.
  8. Cellamare, Carlo, and Francesca Cognetti. 2014. Practices of reappropriation. Roma: Planum.Google Scholar
  9. Cuzzocrea, Valentina. 2015. “Occupabili più che occupati? Ambiguità di un concetto di policy nel caso italiano.” Sociologia del lavoro 138: 55–68.Google Scholar
  10. Dalton, Russell J. 2008. “Citizenship norms and the expansion of political participation.” Political Studies 56 (1):76–98.
  11. D’Alisa, Giacomo, Francesca Forno, and Simon Maurano. 2015. “Grassroots (economic) activism in times of crisis: mapping the redundancy of collective actions.” Partecipazione e conflitto 8 (2):328–42.
  12. De Luigi, Nicola, Alessandro Martelli, and Ilaria Pitti. 2018. “New forms of solidarity and young people: an ethnography of youth participation in italy”. In Young people re-generating politics in times of crisis, edited by Sarah Pickard and Judith Bessant. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  13. Della Porta, Donatella, and Mario Diani. 2006. Social movements: an introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  14. Eurostat. 2015. Demography Report 2015. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.Google Scholar
  15. Eurostat. 2016. European Youth Report 2015. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.Google Scholar
  16. Goglio, Valentina, and Roberto Rizza. 2015. “Transizioni occupazionali di giovani e giovani adulti in Europa.” Sociologia del lavoro, 136: 99–123.Google Scholar
  17. Guidi, Riccardo, and Massimiliano Andretta. 2015. ‘Between resistance and resilience. How do Italian solidarity purchase groups change in time of crisis and austerity?’ Partecipazione e Conflitto 8 (2):443–77.
  18. Hodkinson, Stuart, and Paul Chatterton. 2006. “Autonomy in the city?: reflections on the social centres movements in the UK.” City 10 (3):305–15.
  19. Howie, Luke, and Perri Campbell. 2016. “Guerrilla selfhood: imagining young people’s entrepreneurial futures.” Journal of Youth Studies 19 (7):906–20.
  20. Kousis, Maria. 2017. “Alternative forms of resilience confronting hard economic times. A South European perspective.” Partecipazione e Conflitto 10 (1):119–35.
  21. Lefebvre, Henri. 1968–2015. Le droit à la ville. Paris: Economica.Google Scholar
  22. Melucci, Alberto. 1995. “The process of collective identity”. In Social movements and culture, edited by Hank Johnston and Bert Klandermans. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  23. Membretti, Andrea. 2007. “Centro sociale Leoncavallo: building citizenship as an innovative service.” European Urban and Regional Studies 14 (3):252–63.
  24. Mudu, Pierpaolo. 2004. “Resisting and challenging neoliberalism: the development of Italian social centers.” Antipode 36 (5):917–41.
  25. Mudu, Pierpaolo. 2012. “At the intersection of anarchists and autonomists: autogestioni and centri sociali.” ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 11 (3):413–38.Google Scholar
  26. Pecorelli, Valeria. 2015. “Spazi liberati in città: i centri sociali. Una storia di resistenza costruttiva tra autonomia e solidarietà.” ACME. An International Journal for Critical Geographies 14(1):283–97.Google Scholar
  27. Pickerill, Jenny, and Paul Chatterton. 2006. “Notes towards autonomous geographies: creation, resistance and self-Management as survival tactics.” Progress in Human Geography 30 (6):730–46.
  28. Ruggiero, Vincenzo. 1993. “Sentenced to normality: the Italian political refugees in Paris.” Crime, Law and Social Change 19 (1):33–50.
  29. Ruggiero, Vincenzo. 2000. “New social movements and the centri sociali in Milan.” The Sociological Review 48 (2):167–85.
  30. Schizzerotto, Antonio, Ugo Trivellato, and Nicola Sartor. eds. 2011. Generazioni diseguali: le condizioni di vita dei giovani di ieri e di oggi: un confronto. Bologna: Il Mulino.Google Scholar
  31. Sorlini, Claudia. ed. 1978. Centri sociali autogestiti e circoli giovanili. Milano: Feltrinelli.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilaria Pitti
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Humanities, Education and Social SciencesÖrebro UniversityÖrebroSweden

Personalised recommendations