Accepted Paper:

Between structure and conjuncture: family and kinship responses to economic crises in urban Italy  

Authors:

Javier Gonzalez Diez (University of Turin)
Pier Paolo Viazzo (Università di Torino)
Paola Sacchi (University of Turin)

Paper short abstract:

How do families and kinship networks respond to economic crises? This paper, drawing on ethnographic evidence from urban Italy, assesses the extent to which such responses are affected by the supposedly distinctive social and cultural features of Southern Europe.

Paper long abstract:

The impact of the ongoing economic crisis coupled with the withdrawal of the welfare state is causing concern all over Europe. However, it is likely to have severe effects especially in the southern European countries, characterized by a fragile 'familistic' welfare regime. In general terms, it may be surmised that economic crises generate a dialectic between two divergent tendencies: on the one side, the feeling of insecurity strengthens family and kinship ties as sources of moral and practical help; on the other, such unsettling effects of the crisis as unemployment or the reduction of public welfare entitlements put these same ties under stress and enhance the risks of dissolution. The aim of this paper is to assess how this 'conjunctural' responses are interacting in Italy with the effects of 'structural' forces that are entailing a demographic and institutional weakening of family structures and kinship networks and imposing a passage from ascribed kinship roles to more negotiated and 'flexible' but still ill-defined forms of relatedness. We will draw both on the existing anthropological literature and on the first results of ethnographic researches conducted in an urban area affected both by the current crisis and by longer-term processes of post-Fordist transformations.

Panel P011
Family and kinship in contemporary Southern Europe: transformations, convergences and variations in a macro-regional perspective