In the 1970s, Italy experienced a difficult transition from Fordism to a flexible accumulation regime. The resulting changes in production relations led to the disappearance of traditional public spaces and meeting places such as open squares, workplaces, party offices or the premises of groups involved in the antagonistic, ie anti-capitalist and anti-fascist, movement. Within this context, in the 1980s and 1990s, these groups managed to create new social and political spaces by setting up Self-Managed Social Centers (CSAs), ie squatted properties which became the venue of social, political and cultural events. Over 250 Social Centers have been active in Italy over the past 15 years, especially in urban areas. Their organizational modes are examples of successful direct democracy in non-hierarchical structures and may provide alternative options to the bureaucratic organization of so many aspects of social and political life. Point number one on a Social Center's agenda is a daunting task: it must renovate and refurbish privately or publicly owned empty properties and turn them into public spaces open to the general public. For this task it relies exclusively on collective action, ie cooperative working modes which do not come under the provisions governing regular employment contracts and can thus be used to combat marginalization and exclusion processes which are becoming more and more dramatic in our cities. An analysis of the evolution of this original Italian movement provides the opportunity to address a number of issues associated with alternative practices to neoliberal globalization.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/pierpaolo_mudu/5/