Family, Civil Society, State , review no. Since then, Ginsborg has consolidated his reputation not only as a contemporary historian, but also as a public intellectual and in particular, as an outspoken critic of Silvio Berlusconi. The Italian edition of this most recent history was published in and covered the period , thus overlapping with the first The core reading matter in the first pages constitutes some , words.
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Family, Civil Society, State , review no. Since then, Ginsborg has consolidated his reputation not only as a contemporary historian, but also as a public intellectual and in particular, as an outspoken critic of Silvio Berlusconi. The Italian edition of this most recent history was published in and covered the period , thus overlapping with the first The core reading matter in the first pages constitutes some , words. This materialist base also accounts for his choice of start date, which overlaps with the analysis of his first history, since he takes the trade union defeat in Turin as symbolic of the end of the predominantly industrial era in Italy.
Chapter one identifies a shift to a post-industrial economy dominated by the service sector which, by , accounted for 60 per cent of employment compared to 48 per cent in p. Rather, the middle classes have become central to political developments. The latter is a rent-seeking, tax-evading defender of the status quo, meaning the social exclusion of one-third of the population.
A crucial point for understanding Italian specificities, is that this latter class is disproportionately large given the comparatively large sizes of small-scale, family capitalism and of the artisan and shop-keeping social categories pp. By contrast, the reflexive middle class is judged to be relatively weak because the Italian welfare state has only a half to a third as many employees as the British, French and German states, and in any case has not developed a public service ethos pp.
In sum, whilst the politico-cultural depictions of these two classes are striking, the categories are firmly rooted in economic logics tied to class and state analysis.
The extent to which two relatively impermeable socio-political categories really do exist is a crucial question not only for understanding Italian politics, but for its future direction at this cusp of historical development. Among political scientists there is a strong school of thought, though not one that the reviewer finds persuasive, that the new bipolar party system has seen a rapid refreezing of the electorate, such that a stable majority favouring the centre-right now dominates, making further alternation unlikely for the foreseeable future.
Chapter three focuses on families and consumption, a key category for understanding modern culture, especially mass or popular culture to which chapter four turns.
This has been especially marked in the post-industrial period covered by the history, so that after the intense drama of the preceding decade, the s did not simply bring a return to conformism. Moreover, this new social activism also embraces the South. The contradictory nature of these institutions, especially the latter, is captured eloquently and, as with so much in the book, often very entertainingly.
From Chapter five, the focus shifts explicitly to the political. In that model, the elites were able to co-operate because their respective hinterlands tolerated it. In Italy, such open collaboration was intolerable to the mass electorate and to party rank-and-file, as seen in the s and again in the late s.
Yet without a degree of elite co-operation, a democracy cannot function. The PCI had to negotiate a hugely difficult path between leading and containing political intransigence. On another point, however, the stability of Italian voting patterns p. In this way, the chapters on society, and chapter seven on the state, are linked by both a chapter on political parties, in which the machinations of Propaganda-2, uncovered in , are discussed, and by a chapter which focuses on the complex illegal and judicial linkages between the state and society.
Nevertheless, evaluation and interpretation are fundamental to the judicial process, as Ginsborg records when he points to the shifting evaluations of the secret masonic lodge, Propaganda-2, from the parliamentary committee of inquiry, via several trials to the decision of the supreme appeal court in pp.
More recently, judicial uncertainty has been spectacularly highlighted by the decision of the Perugia Appeal Court 17 November which overturned the decision of a lower court to rule that Andreotti was guilty of complicity in the murder of an investigative journalist in Juridically speaking, the case is not yet closed, since it too will be taken up by the supreme appeal court. This is a welcome attempt at analytical clarity which those seeking explanation should heed, given the inevitable prevalence of studies which offer only partial perspectives.
They are few who feel able to do more. For the moment, however, Italy appears to be at the forefront of a trend to post-party democracy, if such a thing is possible. One aspect of political change in Italy is a technocratic turn in policy-making that has seen the strengthening of government, as against parliament.
Here again, some reflection by Ginsborg on the relevant political science literature would have been welcome — although, to be fair to him, much of it is very recent. Inevitably, given the polarised and polarising nature of contemporary Italian politics, many will find some, perhaps many, of its political judgments unacceptable. Yet none of these is without carefully explained foundation. This is a work which will influence many, and deservedly so.
Therefore I can only assume that the paperback version will be available very soon. Donald Sassoon probably comes closest, with his outstanding semi-history, semi-politics text, Contemporary Italy. Economy, Society and Politics since 2nd edition; Longman; London, Back to 1 P. Society and Politics Penguin; London, He achieved particular prominence in early as one of the figures championing the birth of what some describe as a new social movement which is hostile to the Berlusconi government yet disillusioned with the parliamentary opposition.
Ginsborg has become less prominent as the movement has developed into a major political phenomenon. Back to 3 P. Back to 4 S. Back to 5 By they comprised 38 per cent of the total: Corriere della Sera, 16 January Back to 6 See F. Sabetti, The Search for Good Government. Back to 7 A. Back to 8 See M. Back to 9 S. Piattoni ed. Back to 10 In a discussion of his history at the Italian Cultural Institute, with other historians of contemporary histories of Italy, in April Back to 11 Recent works suggest this previously unthinkable possibility should be thought: R.
Dalton and M. Back to 12 See G. Capano and M. Back to 13 Most recently, Y. Surel, Populismo e democrazia Il Mulino; Bologna, , but a literature was developing in the s, see for example S. Back to 14 Editorial note: the paperback edition is now available from Penguin. Back to 15 March
Italy and Its Discontents
In February , a Socialist Party politician was collared by police in Milan as he tried desperately to flush bribe money down the lavatory. Using his confessions, magistrates began to unravel a system of corruption linking businessmen, politicians and civil servants at the highest levels. The following summer, the Mafia geared up its terrorist strategy by placing bombs aimed at members of the public in the city centres of Rome, Florence and Milan. These shocks hit a political class that had never commanded public enthusiasm.
Mob rule and dirty money
Doulabar Mob rule and dirty money Nevertheless, evaluation and interpretation are fundamental to the judicial process, as Ginsborg records when he points to the shifting evaluations of the secret masonic lodge, Propaganda-2, from the parliamentary committee of inquiry, via several trials to the decision of the supreme appeal court in pp. And Ginsborg brings a number of striking features to it. A country famed for its family centredness has seen its birthrate drop to the lowest on the Continent. The author very much appreciates Dr Duscontents review and does not wish to make any particular comment. Sign In or Create an Account. The following summer, the Mafia geared up its terrorist strategy by placing bombs aimed at members of the public in the city centres of Rome, Florence and Milan. Using his confessions, magistrates began to unravel a system of corruption linking businessmen, politicians and civil servants at the highest levels.
Italy and Its Discontents: Family, Civil Society, State