The purpose of this paper is to offer a contribution to our understanding of the changing relations of the middle classes with the Italian welfare state. The paper argues that the new interplay between public and private welfare is based on a very simplified analysis of Italian society.
The paper aims to integrate a variety of different theoretical approaches. The paper makes extensive use of the EU-SILC database, as well as the recently updated historic series of consumer studies undertaken by the Italian National Institute of Statistics. The data used in the paper were also drawn from the biennial cross-sectional Survey on Household Income and Wealth carried out by the Bank of Italy.
The analysis suggests that the problems of Italian society include not only a high incidence of poverty, but also increasing financial constraints for households placed between the established middle class and people in conditions of persistent poverty. The current public-private mix in service delivery appears less and less capable of protecting this social stratum against the growing risk of instability across all life domains, let alone of creating opportunities and fostering social mobility.
The paper explores some ways in which current politics of welfare have been designed with the view of fundamentally changing the welfare regime. It highlights how the public and private welfare mix has been purposefully organized in order to introduce a new model of social protection that aims to overcome certain specific characteristics of Southern European welfare states. It examines the sustainability of this model compared to the real living conditions of the Italian middle classes.
Siza, R. (2018), "Narrowing the gap: the middle class and the modernization of welfare in Italy", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 38 No. 1/2, pp. 116-129. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-02-2017-0011Download as .RIS
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