Italy Today: The Sick Man of Europe

ISBN 13: 9780415561594

Italy Today: The Sick Man of Europe

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9780415561594: Italy Today: The Sick Man of Europe
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Italy Today represents one of the most comprehensive examinations of contemporary Italy. It is a provocative and an innovative collection that aims to highlight the current ‘crisis’ of the country through an analysis of several different ‘dark shadows’ of contemporary Italian society.

Italy already had a long history of ‘unsolved’ issues, several chronic problems and contradictions that have been ignored for a very long time, during which they have assumed dramatic proportions and gravity. The peninsula has now become the ‘Sick Man of Europe’, a country facing a veritable decline also caused by apparent incapacity and difficulties of the ruling economic, political and social elites.

Discussions include:

  • an evaluation of the current predicaments of the political system
  • analysis of emerging mafias, including new powerful crime organizations such as ‘Ndrangheta
  • issues surrounding the ongoing presence of Fascism
  • examination of the recent xenophobic tensions
  • discussion of problems associated with the missed opportunity of the EU funding, and the increasing regional economic gaps
  • outline of the systemic troubles of Italy’s economic and industrial system.

Written by leading experts in the field and covering a wide range of topics, this collection is essential reading for all those seeking to understand the issues and problems that are facing contemporary Italy.

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About the Author:

Andrea Mammone is a Lecturer in Modern European History at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.

Giuseppe A. Veltri is Lecturer is teaching Methods of Social Inquiry at University of East Anglia . Giuseppe A. Veltri is a Lecturer in Media and Culture at University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.

Review:

"Faced with the attention-seeking antics of Silvio Berlusconi and his political allies, increasingly the temptation is not to treat Italy seriously. The great achievement of the contributors to this excellent volume is to reach behind the façade of political posturing to show that Italy does matter, because the failure of Italy’s political system to come up with solutions to the chronic problems facing the country today poses questions that are relevant to all advanced democracies. Italy today, but where next?" - John Davis, University of Connecticut

 

"Written by well known specialists and young researchers from Italy or outside, this book is dedicated to Contemporary Italy, considered as the sick man of Europe. All the aspects of its decline are studied in an interdisciplinary approach.'' - Marc Lazar, Sciences Po, Paris, France

 

"When journalists talk about Italy, they have a tendency to focus their attention on the Prime Minister, his gaffes in public speeches, and scandals, and to dismiss other issues affecting the country. The book, Italy Today: the Sick Man of Europe seeks to fill this gap, providing an English-speaking audience with information about the Bel Paese that they will not find in regular newspapers.

[...] But Italy’s problems are not limited to Berlusconi’s lack of diplomacy and sense of the politically appropriate. Italy Today digs beneath the surface to explore the structural problems that would persist even if Berlusconi disappeared. Ultimately, the book offers a diagnosis of the malaise affecting the country; and as British historian Paul Corner suggests in the foreword, "Given the right diagnosis, sick men often get better." - Anna Pitton, Journalist

"How is the current crisis and decline of contemporary Italy to be explained? Through its interdisciplinary analyses of old and new but unresolved issues affecting politics, the economy and society in Italy, this book seeks to give an answer to this important question. Across various sectors of the country, the past two decades have witnessed a growth in the explosion of latent problems in urgent need of extensive discussion. The book could not, therefore, be more timely.

Unlike the existing books on Italy and its ‘shadows’, which usually focus either on the political and electoral systems or on the scandals and the transition to the Second Italian Republic, this edited volume – including contributions from leading experts and young scholars – seeks to offer a comprehensive picture of the Italian situation, looking simultaneously at political life, the economic system, history and society. Moreover, it seeks to analyse both the causes and the effects of the problems that have become typical of Italy and, most importantly, to link the present and the past when offering possible explanations. [...]Many of the chapters also offer recommendations regarding possible policy solutions for the problems of this ‘sick man of Europe’, and this can be considered a further merit of the book." - Manuela Caiani, Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna

"Il volume collettivo Italy Today. The Sick Man of Europe [...] si propone come un invito alla diagnosi dei mali d’Italia. Secondo la migliore tradizione saggistica anglosassone, la raccolta, ricca di dati e solidamente ancorata all’analisi, si segnala inoltre per l’agilità della struttura e dei singoli contributi, che pur senza rinunciare al rigore scientifico sono fruibili anche da parte dei non addetti ai lavori. Nel complesso, è un’ottima base di partenza per un dibattito, sia scientifico sia militante, sull’Italia contemporanea, in prospettiva interdisciplinare e internazionale." - Gigliola Sulis, University of Leeds

"Ben ventidue studiosi tra storici, politologi, sociologi ed economisti hanno contribuito alla stesura di questo libro che cerca di mettere a fuoco i problemi del nostro paese [...].

Il libro ha il pregio di fornire, attraverso contributi interdisciplinari, un quadro generale e composito che tocca tutte le problematicità italiane mai del tutto risolte e pone interessanti interrogativi e spunti soprattutto sulle nuove questioni scaturite dagli anni ’90 in poi." - Rivista Italiana di Scienza della Politica

"Italy Today is a collection of essays about various aspects of the economic and political life of Italy and of Italian society. Its eighteen chapters cover, among other topics, immigration; racism and xenophobia; the legacy of fascism and the years of lead; organised crime; the role of the Church, the media and the family; decentralising reform; the North-South divide. So, the volume covers a large amount of ground, and its sub-title, ‘The Sick Man of Europe’, is in many ways understandable as the focus is placed, for much the book, on the country’s problems. The editors have chosen to combine well- established and younger researchers, based at institutions both in Italy and abroad, to examine several of what they call the ‘dark shadows’ of contemporary Italian society.

So the book contains a large number of valuable insights [and] the work will appeal to a wide range of scholars with an interest in contemporary Italy." - James L. Newell, Journal of Contemporary European Studies

"Italy Today is a collection of eighteen essays dealing with a wide range of topics, some authored by established scholars such as Percy Allum and Anna Cento Bull, but for the most part by younger ones...Unlike most previous studies, however, this volume does not focus mostly on political issues such as the elections, the political system, the Tangentopoli (Bribesville) scandals of the 1990s, the transition from the "First Republic" to the "Second Republic", or Silvio Berlusconi’s impact on Italy since his foray into politics. The editors’ approach is more ambitious: they aim to provide a survey of the systemic crisis of Italy, in other words, to discuss the long-term issues of Italian politics and society that are responsible for its troubles...Berlusconi is scarcely present in this collection. Resisting the temptation to ascribe Italy’s stagnation largely to him – a simplistic formula often adopted by scholars, Andrea Mammone and Giuseppe Veltri have chosen instead to provide an analysis of the political and cultural environment that have enabled Berlusconi to thrive.

The extensive range of topics dealt with, the quality and clarity of most contributions (jargon has largely been avoided), and the wealth of bibliographical references makes this a most valuable publication. The well-chosen illustrations that accompany the chapters on the contemporary far right’s use of fascist architecture as memorials to Mussolini’s regime, on the Lega Nord’s apparently harmless xenophobia, and on the policy initiatives on Roma and Sinti taken by Prodi’s last government and quite recently by Berlusconi are another welcome feature of the book: they attest to the major role played by public spaces and the visual media in Italian political persuasion and mobilization.

Italy Today should feature on all bibliographies of students of Italian studies, Italian politics and Italian cultural studies; it will also appeal to a more general readership." - Luciano Cheles, Université de Poitiers

 

"The scandals, speeches, sex, and partisan scheming of Italian political life have always grabbed media attention. Yet the central question of Italian politics often goes unasked: How did the most successful country in postwar Europe become a basket case? [...] The interdisciplinary group of authors in this collection sets aside short-term factors and explores long-term structural reasons for Italia malata (ailing Italy). They offer new insights into well-known problems [...]. They also highlight problems known only to experts: little government support for families, the spread of organized crime outside of Naples and Sicily, low levels of social trust, and anti-immigrant sentiment." - Andrew Moravcsik (Princeton University), Foreign Affairs

"Italy Today is a collection of eighteen essays dealing with a wide range of topics, some authored by established scholars such as Percy Allum and Anna Cento Bull, but for the most part by younger ones...Unlike most previous studies, however, this volume does not focus mostly on political issues such as the elections, the political system, the Tangentopoli (Bribesville) scandals of the 1990s, the transition from the "First Republic" to the "Second Republic", or Silvio Berlusconi's impact on Italy since his foray into politics. The editors' approach is more ambitious: they aim to provide a survey of the systemic crisis of Italy, in other words, to discuss the long-term issues of Italian politics and society that are responsible for its troubles...Berlusconi is scarcely present in this collection. Resisting the temptation to ascribe Italy's stagnation largely to him - a simplistic formula often adopted by scholars, Andrea Mammone and Giuseppe Veltri have chosen instead to provide an analysis of the political and cultural environment that have enabled Berlusconi to thrive.

The extensive range of topics dealt with, the quality and clarity of most contributions (jargon has largely been avoided), and the wealth of bibliographical references makes this a most valuable publication. The well-chosen illustrations that accompany the chapters on the contemporary far right's use of fascist architecture as memorials to Mussolini's regime, on the Lega Nord's apparently harmless xenophobia, and on the policy initiatives on Roma and Sinti taken by Prodi's last government and quite recently by Berlusconi are another welcome feature of the book: they attest to the major role played by public spaces and the visual media in Italian political persuasion and mobilization.

Italy Today should feature on all bibliographies of students of Italian studies, Italian politics and Italian cultural studies; it will also appeal to a more general readership." - Luciano Cheles, Université de Poitiers

"In eighteen chapters divided into five parts dedicated to the macro-areas of politics, history, immigration, organised crime, and the economy, this volume attempts to de-construct old and new stereotypes and reflect the reality of a troubled country. The book draws a disheartening picture: political parties unable to understand the needs and mood of the country and creeping increasingly towards a surreal selfreferentiality; a cultural milieu that has yet to transform historical tragedies such as Fascism and the period of terrorism in the 1970s into truly collective experiences; a society too prone to justify exclusion and discrimination of immigrants and gypsies; criminal organisations that rival with and often prevail over the state for control of large chunks of Italy's territory; and a labour and entrepreneurial world that is struggling to cope with international competition...the volume is an enlightening read (the section on the economy deserves special praise)." - The International Spectator

"Questo saggio, edito da Andrea Mammone e Giuseppe A. Veltri, è una fotografia piuttosto impietosa e critica dell’Italia attuale, definita appunto come «il malato d’Europa». Il volume affronta, in una serie di saggi brevi e scorrevoli, il problema del declino della società, della politica e dell’economia italiane [...]. Chi sia interessato a leggere il volume da una prospettiva di politica regionale sarà portato a dirigere la propria attenzione in primo luogo ai contributi nelle parti dedicate alla questione meridionale (due saggi sul peso della criminalità organizzata, di Parini e di Allum ed Allum) e sull’economia italiana. Quest’ultima contiene capitoli su: industrializzazione, convergenza e governance (Iona, Leonida e Sobbrio), performance di spesa delle Regioni italiane e capacità attuativa (Milio), riforma del welfare (Simoni) e declino del modello di sviluppo basato sulla piccola e media impresa a conduzione familiare (Minetti) [...].

Questa raccolta di saggi è certamente benvenuta, non solo perché affronta tematiche controverse e quanto mai attuali, facendo riflettere sullo stato attuale del nostro Paese, ma anche perché, come sottolineato nella prefazione di Paul Corner (Università di Siena), le questioni affrontate vengono inquadrate nel tempo, portando il lettore a riflettere su come si sia arrivati alla situazione attuale e su quali siano i nodi strutturali che il nostro Paese dovrà risolvere per intraprendere la via della «guarigione»." - Laura Polverari, Rivista Giuridica del Mezzogiorno

"Italy Today è una collezione di saggi, dal taglio accademico ma in forma divulgativa. Raccoglie contributi multidisciplinari di scienziati sociali che hanno studiato l'Italia più o meno recente. Molti di questi sono emigranti, altri stranieri. Lo scopo dichiarato dell'opera è descrivere e analizzare il declino dell'Italia come un fenomeno che va al di là del fattore Berlusconi [...].

Si tratta senza dubbio di una lettura estremamente interessante, che si può fare a più livelli e quindi che può essere affrontata da tutti. Inoltre la sua struttura multivocale permette anche una certa libertà di "movimento" all'interno dell'indice (a mio avviso non è necessario leggerlo in ordine) [...].

Segnalo in particolare, [...] che io ho trovato assolutamente illuminante l'analisi sulla Lega Nord, molto brillanti i contributi sul Mezzogiorno e infine eccellente davvero il saggio sull'assenza di una strategia nazionale per "digerire" la memoria degli anni di piombo [...].

Credo che il libro sia innanzitutto coraggioso, nel senso che cerca di mettere in luce le cause strutturali proprio nel momento in cui le attenzioni di tutti sono concentrate sul fattore Berlusconi e le devastazioni che sta producendo. Credo anche e soprattutto che serva a capire il retroterra che ha spianato la strada all'uomo forte, nei confronti del quale il sistema Italia (per la seconda volta dopo gli anni Venti) non ha saputo creare anticorpi sufficienti. Ne consiglio la lettura insieme all'ultimo saggio di Viroli, che presenta le radici culturali dell'attuale Sultanato." - Francesco Bogliacino, Universidad EAFIT (Colombia)

'The extensive range of topics dealt with, the quality and clarity of most contributions, and the wealth of bibliographical references makes this a most valuable publication [...] Italy Today should feature on all bibliographies of students of Italian studies, Italian politics and Italian cultural studies; it will also appeal to a more general readership.' - E-extreme (Electronic Newsletter of the ECPR-SG on Extremism and Democracy), Volume 11, No. 4, December 2010

'...the volume is an enlightening read (the section on the economy deserves special praise).' - The International Spectator, Vol. 45, No. 4 (December 2010), 120

 

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