Democracy and Disorder: Protest and Politics in Italy, 1965-1975

Democracy and Disorder: Protest and Politics in Italy, 1965-1975

Language: English

Pages: 416

ISBN: 0198275617

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This is a study of the cycle of protest that swept across Italy from the late 1960s through the early 1970s. Using a variety of newspaper, archival, and interview materials, and combining quantitative time-series techniques with historical and ideological analyses, Tarrow shows how protest spread from the student and worker movements to virtually every sector of Italian society, and gave rise to "extraparliamentary" groups, violence, and finally, a return to traditional political patterns. Despite the violence and disorder, Tarrow demonstrates that the major result of the cycle was to increase the repertoire of participation and to contribute to a consolidation of Italian democracy.

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Surprisingly, given the many ways real groups have pursued their own common ends at one time or another. (1978: 151) The repertoire of contention of a group Tilly defines as ‘the whole set of means it has for making claims of different kinds on different individuals or groups’ (1986A: 4). ‘Because similar groups generally have similar repertoires’, he continues, ‘we can speak more loosely of a general repertoire that is available for contention to the population of a time and place’. The

to involve relatively affluent groups, like college students, as they are to appear during periods of economic downturn and among the poor (Piven and Cloward 1977). Since periods of prosperity and periods of crisis alike produce cycles of protest, it seems logical to expect that the factors responsi­ ble for generating protest can be present in both, although they are obviously not going to be equally present in all periods of history. People are most available for collective action, I shall

Second, looking up at the first line, we can see that relative union participation—high at the beginning— declined rapidly in the late 1960s and never again returned to the level of 1966.5 Third, the proportion with parties and party mass organizations—after declining sharply in 1968—recovered quickly; by the end of the period, they were present in twice the proportion of 5 Of course, the decline of union presence is relative only to the total number of protests, both within and outside the

consulting them; and second, the autonomy of the unions from their respective political party affili­ ates. While the unions were more prone to interpret autonomy in the second sense, the form of factory representation that they eventually 132 PARABOLAS OF PR O T E ST adopted, the council of delegates, was open to both union and non-union workers. Although these councils soon came under the control of the unions, they institutionalized autonomy symbolically. Extraparliamentary militants in

liberation, criticism of science, technology, and bourgeois art; to the demand for direct democracy and anti-authoritarianism; and to a 8 As Bobbio writes: ‘At a certain point we [the student movement] ceased to try to justify our desire for rebellion by recourse to marxist-structural models and began to demand that we be recognized for what we were. We didn’t try to act as part of the proletariat, but as a distinct social group with its own needs.’ (Personal communication to the author.) 150

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