Common Goods and Public Values in Changing Inter-Cultural Contexts in Europe: The 'Piazzola' Market, Bologna, Italy

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2008

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Abstract

"The general objective of the study is the research of the dynamics and the present underlying acting drivers of social interaction in 'culturally heterogeneous contexts' as such created during the last decades in diverse societies of the world by migration movements. "The field work was done in the weekly market of 'La Piazzola' in Bologna city, which for six centuries has been an important space of economic, but also social and cultural inter-exchange. "The theoretical perspective of common and public goods was used as analytical frame in which the main hypothesis of the work is built on: The market is a common good of public property with an historical value. As a common good, the good functioning and public value of the market is based in an important level of collective action (mainly among sellers), built on trust and on the presence of well known and consensual rules. The increasing cultural heterogeneity among the sellers in the market demands more social and group investment on communication and consensus building. "The research was made as pos degree dissertation. The field work was based on different strategies: 'participatory research', a survey to the vendors, deep interview to key informants and an analysis of the different legal instruments (immigration law and its changes, market regulations). Its main objective was to document the social and cultural heterogeneity present in this space, but also: the level of interaction among individuals of the same and different nationalities, the hierarchy present in their relations, the level of trust, the knowledge of the rules and laws ruling the market, and the influence of the legal status6 on the rest of the mentioned variables. "The researched produced different findings, among the most relevant: -- The knowledge and clarity of the rules in place, their effective implementation and the participation of those directly affected by them in their adaptation to changing conditions are fundamental elements for the governability of commongoods, including those that produce public services, as has for long been the case of La Piazzola Market. -- In contexts of rapid change, as such created by migration flux and work and commerce des-regulation, cultural but also social heterogeneity tend to rapidly increase, creating conditions of: social vulnerability, loose of social capital and deterioration of common and public goods and services. -- Interaction and participatory rule crafting are possible, and present among limited sub-groups in 'La Piazzola', but require conscious individual and group efforts as well as policy support."

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culture, institutions, value, IASC

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