Professor at Sciences-Po Paris and Luiss-Guido Carli University in Rome
A professor of political sociology and history, specialist in the history of Italy's political life and the Left, Marc Lazar heads the history department and chairs the scientific council at Sciences Po.
He founded and leads the GREPIC group for multidisciplinary research on contemporary Italy within the CERI international research centre, as part of Sciences Po-CNRS.
He is also president of the Luiss-Guido Carli School of Government and an associate professor at this university. He has written a number of books devoted to Italy and most of them have been translated into Italian.
He has worked on communism, a comparative study of the socialist left and social-democratic political parties in Western Europe, relations between the left and public services in France, as well as the transformations affecting democracy in Italy. His main publications include:
We are on a continent, Europe, where the age of the population is rising. The ageing of the population is a major factor behind the attitudes to risks. This is a fundamental element, identified by several studies. It will be increasingly necessary to bear this in mind
Let’s not forget that behind these figures there are regional variations. Faced with risks, the situation in Italy is completely different depending on whether we are talking about the South or the North. There is 8% unemployment in the North, but over 17% in the South, where more than 40% of 15 to 24 year-olds are out of work (double the level in the North). This is a significant limitation with the research. The feeling of being protected or the fear of social regression are set against very different realities. If we carried out the survey in Lombardy or in Venetia, and we compared with Sicily or Campania, I believe the difference would go from 1 to 50!
There has just been a major change in Italy. Up until 2011, Berlusconi explained to the Italian people that they were in a sort of bubble, that the crisis was passing them by. Then, we have had the Monti government, which has adopted a Churchill-like “blood and tears” stance. In this way, the Italians have become aware that things were in fact going badly.
The family dimension is always important when considering models of protection. There is always a balance between public and private. But how long will this go on? In Italy for instance, are we not moving towards a breakdown of the family structure? For the moment, it is proving resilient. The numbers of people in nursing homes are relatively low, with the exception of the poorest segments. There are all these households with three generations. Young people are no longer finding it easy to buy their first homes (whereas the ideal situation is for a young couple to move into their own home). That is why more and more young adults are continuing to live in the family home. However, how much longer can the family-based solidarity model exist? The number of divorces is on the rise and families are starting to split up. If this vertical-solidarity system built around the family collapses, what will happen?
The gap between the reality and public perception is not a new development. Various surveys carried out in the 1950s and 1960s show that while all the economic indexes were progressing, French people felt that their situation was deteriorating. At the time of the debate sparked by the French Communist Party in the 1950s concerning the “absolute and relative pauperisation” of the working class, a key concept for Maurice Thorez, though nobody cared about Maurice Thorez, but this rang true for many people. They said “he’s right”, whereas they were in the middle of France’s “Glorious 30-year” period.
There is a general feeling of mistrust in Italy. All the other surveys we have reveal a collapse in the levels of confidence, affecting all institutions, even the country’s Presidency. Only 4% of Italians have confidence in the political parties! So, in Italy, a bit like in Greece, there is nothing else to do but take risks, as shown by the quite spectacular figures for the resumption of immigration by young people, from the South to the North, or the emigration of young graduates abroad (“brain drain”). Nevertheless, we can also see that the balance of trade shows a strong surplus. In Italy, there is still a capacity to do business
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