Conflicts on Roma Settlements in Italian Cities: Normative Polarisation and Pragmatic Mediation


The aim of this paper is to investigate conflicts against Roma settlements by considering not only the decision-making processes and relations of force, but also the complex dynamics of the attempts to define the assets that are the object of conflict wherein rules and authorities are both acknowledged and criticised. The main topic is related to the sociological debate on the normative polarisation concept, and this paper suggests an analytical method for defining normative polarisation that considers the state's active role in promoting the racial exclusion of Roma. Evidence for this study originates from ten fieldwork case studies in Italy. We will analyse two cases (Rome and Milan) in which conflicts led to the disintegration of social ties and the polarisation of normative positions; a compromise has not been reached because these conflicts have not contributed in any way to mediating institutions. Case studies in small Italian cities will be subsequently introduced. In these cases, institutional mediation played a role in their respective conflicts' dynamics by linking the actors and involving them in regulation issues concerning resource allocation and coordination for delivering collective goods. The main theoretical results focus on the central role that groupings of objects, rules, and conventions play with both a performative power as law and public policy instrumentation within these conflicts' dynamics.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22804250v8i1p29

Keywords: Sociology of the State; Ethnic Conflicts; Roma; Mediation; Polarisation; Exclusion

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