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Voices of the Valley, Voices of the Straits

Voices of the Valley, Voices of the Straits: How Protest Creates Communities

Donatella della Porta
Gianni Piazza
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Voices of the Valley, Voices of the Straits
    Book Description:

    Protest campaigns against large-scale public works usually take place within a local context. However, since the 1990s new forms of protest have been emerging. This book analyses two cases from Italy that illustrate this development: the environmentalist protest campaigns against the TAV (the building of a new high-speed railway in Val de Susa, close to the border with France), and the construction of the Bridge on the Messina Straits (between Calabria and Sicily). Such mobilizations emerge from local conflicts but develop as part of a global justice movement, often resulting in the production of new identities. They are promoted through multiple networks of different social and political groups, that share common claims and adopt various forms of protest action. It is during the protest campaigns that a sense of community is created.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-862-1
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    D. d. P. and G. P.
  4. Chapter 1 Local Conflict between Interest and Identity: an Introduction
    (pp. 1-30)

    The flyer that promotes this alliance between the far north and far south of Italy is signed by the Rete No Ponte (“No Bridge Network”) and the Rete Meridionale del Nuovo Municipio (“Southern Network for a New Municipalism”). While the former unites various committees and associations from the area of the Messina Straits opposed to the construction of a bridge between Calabria and Sicily, the latter seeks to involve both local politicians and citizens in the practices of participatory democracy. The twinning is proposed with the No Tav committees and Mayors of Val di Susa (on the border with France),...

  5. Chapter 2 Networks and Cross-fertilisation: the Resources of the Protest
    (pp. 31-56)

    The words of this activist underline a frequently mentioned problem for social movements, namely that the presence of a controversy does not transform automatically into collective action, particularly of a mass nature, as mobilisation of the discontented is required for this to happen. Mobilisation in both our protest campaigns is potentially very difficult, having to address complex technical questions and oppose the discourse of project promoters who promise economic advantages for the communities affected. In this chapter we shall see how these problems were confronted through a networked organisational structure, which expanded during the protest, adopting instruments of flexible coordination....

  6. Chapter 3 Protest and Identity: the Symbolic Construction of Conflict
    (pp. 57-78)

    This interview with a No Tav activist defines the stake of the protest as made of a series of complex problems, with both environmental and social implications, involving public health as well as ethical issues. Research on other conflicts (whether local or not) has underlined the importance of symbolically defining a problem and attributing it a political cause. The mobilisation of citizens into a collective action does not solely depend on the “objective” danger facing their interests, nor does it entirely depend on the availability of structural resources for protest (particularly organisation), but it is closely linked to a subjective...

  7. Chapter 4 In Movement: the Repertoires of the Protest
    (pp. 79-104)

    As this activist recalls, in both the Straits and Val di Susa protest campaigns those opposed to the building of these infrastructural projects use a variety of protest strategies in seeking to influence public opinion. Protest is defined in the sociology of social movements as a “resource of the powerless …[protest forms] depend for success not upon direct utilization of power, but upon activating other groups to enter the political arena” (Lipsky 1965: 1). Protest uses the mass media as indirect channels of participation and allows alliances with more influential actors. In order to obtain a voice, social movements “employ...

  8. Chapter 5 Voices of the Valley, Voices of the Straits: a Conclusion
    (pp. 105-114)

    They are trying to stop this formidable resistance, accusing us of being conservative, backward, enemies of progress. They try to isolate each of these protests by defining them as “not in my backyard”. But the local dimension of these struggles immediately raises global questions, which in the case of the Tav is a criticism against the realisation of large European infrastructure networks, which consider territory as simply a space to cross, a resource to exploit and violate … or, in the case of the Bridge on the Straits, we are redefining the concept of what constitutes “development” in the South...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 115-126)
  10. Index
    (pp. 127-128)