The Culture of Consent: Mass Organisation of Leisure in Fascist Italy

The Culture of Consent: Mass Organisation of Leisure in Fascist Italy

Victoria De Grazia

Language: English

Pages: 324

ISBN: 0521526914

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The efforts of fascism to form a 'culture of consent,' or shape depoliticized activities, in Italy between the world wars, make a unique portrait of fascist political tactics. Professor de Grazia focuses on the dopolavoro or fascist leisure-time organization, the largest of the regime's mass institutions. She traces its gradual rise in importance for the consolidation of fascist rule; its spread in the form of thousands of local clubs into every domain of urban and rural life; and its overwhelming impact on the distribution, consumption, and character of all kinds of recreational pursuits - from sports and adult education to movies, traveling theaters, radio, and tourism. The author shows how fascism was able, between 1926 and 1939, to build a new definition of the public sphere. Recasting the public sphere entailed dispensing with traditional class and politically defined modes of organizing those social roles and desires existing outside the workplace.

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course of 1923 they rapidly assimilated Nationalist, technocratic, and business views on how to form the model citizen-producer, becoming "experts" on worker education, technical instruction, factory hygiene and safety, social welfare, and recreation.6 Their programs now emphasized the class collaboration and increased labor productivity that would stem from proper vocational training, the restorative and morally uplifting effects of recreation, and the education of workers in the "national

decided lack of enterprise by local functionaries; at Genoa "effective propaganda" was lacking, inducements were not actively offered, and petty regulations were often enforced so as to "persistently hamper" the efforts of theaters, recreational circles, and sports. The functionaries were in many areas indifferent. They had shut themselves up in their offices, though even the slightest contact with workers in the old circles would immediately have demonstrated "how much remained to be done to win

provided a full range of services from the company store to the company-supported church. But it was the dopolavoro that especially impressed visitors. According to the English cooperativist Karl Walter, it was "as spacious and well-appointed as any American athletic club and made the RAC [Royal Athletic Club] look stuffy - a great swimming pool, tennis courts and gymnasium, glass-enclosed in winter under a single span of roof so high that you forget it, with tiers of dressing cabins and showers

the opportunism of workers who had no alternatives and nothing to lose? The answer is more complex. The regime, by instituting the dopolavoro in all areas of national life and by propagandizing such initiatives as a worker right, merely supported by company largesse, had in a sense succeeded in giving this originally private managerial operation a public character that made it more acceptable to workers. So long as there was no visible alternative to these benefits - the fascist neighborhood

state," ironically, it was as if this nonsyndical form were accepted as the natural mode of organizing the impiegati; no bargaining, and certainly no labor struggle; no petty haggling over wages, hours, and job security, but rather the provision by a benign management of services consistent with their relatively elevated status as intellectual workers and modest consumers. Above all, by banning trade unions in the public sector, where the majority of the intellectual workers were employed, it set

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