Theses Doctoral

Community, Place, and Cultural Battles: Associational Life in Central Italy, 1945-1968

Hornbake, Laura Jeanne

This dissertation is an exploration of associational life in central Italy, an examination of organizations that were central to the everyday experience of tens of thousands of Italians at a time when social, economic and geographical transformations were upending their everyday lives, 1945-1968. This dissertation examines facets of these transformations: the changing shape of cities, increasing mobility of people, technological changes that made possible new media and new cultural forms, from the perspective of local associations.

The many lively groups, the cultural circles and case del popolo of central Italy were critical sites where members encountered new ideas, navigated social change, and experimented with alternative cultures. At the same time, these organizations themselves were being transformed from unitary centers that expressed the broad solidarity of the anti-fascist Resistance to loose federations of fragmentary single-interest groups. They were tangles of intertwined politics, culture, and community, important sites in culture wars and political battles between the Christian Democratic government in Rome and the defiant Leftist opposition that had a stronghold in central Italy.

This history of associations is also a history of postwar Italian democracy: highlighting the struggles of ordinary Italians to participate in public life through the associations they constructed and defended, illuminating attempts to organize and control civil society or squelch the autonomy of local groups, and uncovering the ways that demands for democratic participation were dynamic, continuously recast to encompass new meanings of participation.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
De Grazia, Victoria
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 13, 2013