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Between public consumption and private consumption: The commercial revolution and local government in Bologna “the red” (1959-1981)

Roberto Parisini (Department of Contemporary History, University of Ferrara, Bologna, Italy)

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing

ISSN: 1755-750X

Article publication date: 16 February 2015

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to analyze the problematic relationship between the Left, the commercial revolution and the progressive growth of mass consumption during the Italian economic miracle.

Design/methodology/approach

Taking for example the city of Bologna, the most important city run by the Italian communist party, the paper problematizes the socio-economic and political – institutional processes connected with the emergence of “American-like” commercial and distribution strategies, and of consumerist identities.

Findings

Bologna’s administrators governed the commerce through a rationalization supported by urban planning, including the establishment of a chain of “associated supermarkets”, built on municipal areas and financed by a mixed-capital company set up for that purpose. At the same time, they sought to protect small retailers to gain their political consensus and to contain crisis-related anxieties among the consumers, a category which has still an uncertain identity in Italy.

Originality/value

Much remains to be seen in the characteristics of the Italian miracle, and in the manner it was ruled. The case of Bologna illuminates an important piece of the Italian Left’s attempt to interpret and to lead the modernization of the country.

Keywords

Citation

Parisini, R. (2015), "Between public consumption and private consumption: The commercial revolution and local government in Bologna “the red” (1959-1981)", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 58-73. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHRM-07-2013-0048

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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