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Chapter 14 Active Citizenship in Italian Cohousing: A Preliminary Reflection

Everyday Life in the Segmented City

ISBN: 978-1-78052-258-6, eISBN: 978-1-78052-259-3

Publication date: 10 November 2011


This chapter looks at the increasing interest in the cohousing phenomenon in Italy within civil society, public institutions, and academia. The most significant element to emerge from all this interest is the ‘ambiguity’ concerning the use of the concept. It is thus necessary to identify what the ‘Cohousing’ nomenclature is applied to, present it in its historical and geographic context, trace its origins and development on the basis of the related literature, and highlight the recent issues that have arisen from the debates held in international research networks. This chapter will advance the hypothesis that ‘ambiguity’ is playing, to a certain extent, a positive role, creating a common ground where different traditions, institutions, and social practices can meet and approach one another. I also propose considering the remarkable territorial activation expressed by emerging bottom-up initiatives as the most relevant specificity of the actual Italian situation from a public policies point of view. I identify the main issues at the national level and compare them with those issues found during field research carried out through participant observation. The introductory analysis of the reported case study, which focuses mainly on context conditions, shows the Ferrara bottom-up initiatives to be the (unintended) result of previous active citizenship public policies, thus revealing the importance of and the frames provided by urban policies to social innovation processes. As a future research issue, a shift is recommended from a blanket approach to a critical analysis of specific experiences.



Durante, C. (2011), "Chapter 14 Active Citizenship in Italian Cohousing: A Preliminary Reflection", Perrone, C., Manella, G. and Tripodi, L. (Ed.) Everyday Life in the Segmented City (Research in Urban Sociology, Vol. 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 307-333.



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