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Building a Civil Society

Building a Civil Society: Associations, Public Life, and the Origins of Modern Italy

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 320
  • Book Info
    Building a Civil Society
    Book Description:

    Drawing on extensive research in published and unpublished documents - including associational records, newspapers, periodicals, government documents, guidebooks, exhibition catalogues, memoirs, and private letters - Steven C. Soper provides a complex account of Italian liberalism during Europe's age of association.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6445-6
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)

    Italy’s full-blown age of association began dramatically, with the creation of the Italian Kingdom. In one territory after another – first Lombardy in 1859, then the duchies, most of the Papal States, and southern Italy in 1860, and finally the Veneto in 1866 and Rome in 1870 – citizens promptly celebrated their liberation from oppressive rulers by creating a spate of new associations: political associations, workers’ mutual aid societies, veterans’ groups, social clubs, agrarian associations, music bands and drama clubs, reading societies and night school programs, consumer cooperatives and credit unions, associations of wine producers, horse breeders, and beekeepers. These...

  5. 1 In Search of Associational Life
    (pp. 21-51)

    In September 1842, Padua hosted the fourth annual Congress of Italian Scientists. Italy was still a peninsula occupied by eight different states, and Italians still suffered the isolating effects of internal trade barriers, poor transportation, and restricted civil liberties. Narrowly technical in appearance, the congresses of Italian scientists were in fact a highly anticipated experiment in national assembly and discussion. The first three congresses had met in Pisa, Turin, and Florence; thus, the fourth congress in Padua was the first to be held in the Veneto, the first, for that matter, to take place anywhere in the Austrian Lombard-Veneto kingdom...

  6. 2 Poetry and Prose in the Risorgimento
    (pp. 52-77)

    When the liberation of the Veneto began in July 1866, Luigi Luzzatti was in Lombardy. A native of Venice, graduate of the University of Padua, and, in the not so distant future, the leading political figure in the region, Luzzatti had left his homeland for Milan in 1863. Lombardy at that time was already part of the united Italian kingdom, and Milan was a vibrant centre of social and intellectual life. The contrast with the oppressive atmosphere of the Veneto under Austrian rule could not have been greater. Luzzatti was only twenty-two years old when he arrived in Milan, but...

  7. 3 A New Public
    (pp. 78-109)

    Throughout the summer and fall of 1866, countless journalists, political hopefuls, and leading citizens proclaimed the beginning of a new era of freedom and progress in the Veneto. Again and again, they contrasted life as it had been under the Austrians with the life of liberty promised by the Italian state. In September, the industrialist Alessandro Rossi told an assembly of notables and officials from the province of Vicenza: “we have just emerged from a tomb of silence, when the best minds of the country covered their faces, and in many inertia and apathy were adopted out of desperation, and...

  8. 4 Popular Capitalism
    (pp. 110-139)

    The true focus of associational life in united Italy was economic modernization. A concern for greater productivity led many liberals to turn away from traditional forms of religious charity, craft organization, and elite sociability, and towards associations that promised to increase the wealth, education, and welfare of a broader cross section of society. Venetian liberals were especially convinced that new forms of “popular association” – mutual aid societies, cooperatives, credit unions, libraries, and schools – were the key to addressing the daunting socio-economic problems of poverty and illiteracy. In a yearbook documenting the proliferation of popular associations in the Veneto...

  9. 5 Notable Politics
    (pp. 140-163)

    In December 1866, Fedele Lampertico, Vicenza’s most prominent liberal politician, was elected to Italy’s Chamber of Deputies. The following summer, over four hundred people in Vicenza signed a petition, posted throughout the city, protesting Lampertico’s vote in Parliament against the state’s sale of church property. Before he came up for election again in 1870, Lampertico announced his retirement from the Chamber, citing “family reasons,” at the age of thirty-six; he was quickly nominated to the Senate, a position he held until his death in 1906. Nor was he the only important political figure in the Veneto to prefer a permanent,...

  10. 6 The Death of a Generation
    (pp. 164-184)

    On the 10th of June 1897, a fight broke out in the city of Vicenza. In fact, it was not one but several fights, and although the main conflict started in the centre of the city, it extended along the processional route to Mount Berico, a religious shrine and historic battlefield north of the city. At issue was the manner in which the city would celebrate the anniversary of its battle against the Austrians at Mount Berico, in June 1848. Would there be just one religious ceremony and procession to the holy shrine in the morning, as Count Roberto Zileri...

  11. 7 Unknown Territory
    (pp. 185-203)

    In 1878, the moderate liberal newspaperIl Giornale di Padovasponsored the publication ofL’Osservatore Euganeo, a combination yearbook and directory. A practical guide to the institutions and services available to residents of the city and province of Padua, it listed the names and addresses of the area’s professional groups (lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc.), merchants, and artisans; and the schedules of court hearings, postal and telegraph offices, public transportation, fairs, and markets. Also included was information regarding the city’s many institutions and associations: charities, mutual aid societies, theatre groups, social clubs, and commercial institutions. For almost all of these organizations,...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 204-210)

    This book began as a doctoral dissertation, which I defended at the University of Michigan in the spring of 1996. The speaker at the university’s winter commencement that year was Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor. With a few friends, I listened as the first woman on America’s highest court recounted the story of her remarkable life. Ten or fifteen minutes into the speech, Justice O’Connor turned her attention to the history of associational life and made a special point of mentioning the important new research on associations in modern Italy. My friends’ jaws dropped: was it possible that Sandra...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 211-272)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 273-296)
  15. Index
    (pp. 297-310)