Labour and rural workers

The industrial boom in the postwar period and the “economic miracle” with the resulting phenomenon of urbanization have led in Italy to a strong reshaping of the importance recognized to the agriculture and, more broadly, to the rural areas. The consequences have been relevant not only concerning the economic attention to this sector, but also considering the social, infrastructural and environmental politics; the problematic linked to this process are undeniable and this is one of the reasons why the topic of the rural areas is achieving a new visibility.

From about the 80s of the previous century, the Italian rural historiography has suffered a strong setback; centers of research and single scholars are the isolated signs of the last season of researches but the vivacity, the coordination, the issues and the books published – that on the contrary are typical of the most part of the European academies – disappeared. Taking advantage from the recent theoretical advancement of the labour history, which went beyond the exclusivity of the industrial wageworker as field of research, this group wants to gather the members of the SISLav that has met the countryside in their researches.

There are various items that the group wants to discuss; the first one is the meaning of the term “rural”. Second, there is the problem of the different kinds of rural workers engaged, often in a non-exclusive way, in the primary sector, in the secondary one and in the tertiary, as well as in the domestic work or in the “non-work” (the unemployment). Another field of research should be the fluidity of the employment forms (wageworkers, self-employers, down to slavery and the undefined contemporary contractual types) and their overlap in the workers’ life cycle.

In addition to the labour in a strict sense, we wants to give a special attention to the items linked with the workers as persons and as community, in their relationship with the elements inside the world of work and the social and environmental ones. From this point of view an analysis of the horizontal relations (like the family environment, the parental mutualism, and so on) and the vertical ones (the relations of dependence or patronage) is fundamental; beside this, there is the problem of the social mobility inside and outside the rural world and of the relationship with the market.

The definition of environment inside whom the rural workers are placed and where they act must be related to other environments, close or in a certain way overlapping, such as the cities; the perspective should be both the relationship between productive activities and the important problem of the mobility (permanent or seasonal) from and to the countryside.

Another field of discussion is the activism of the rural workers, with a special focus on the forms of organization of the workers, relate to the working environment ant to the signally politic activism.

These problems will be debated in a long-term perspective, from the antiquity to this day and age, first through a discussion among the members of the group, comparing the researches that every one of us is conducting. Second, the aim is to promote various kind of initiatives (seminars, conferences, lessons) in order to bring back the attention on this field of research and to encourage the debate within the Italian and international academic – and non-academic – world.

In this sense, the web page of the group is a valid instrument in order to collect initiatives, publications and discussions proposed by the group and by other Italian and foreign research institutions.

In closing, beyond the long term and transnational perspective, the approach to these items should be multidisciplinary, through the debate with disciplines like the rural sociology, the geography and the anthropology.

The group is open to every member of the SISLav interested in these items.

Actual members of the group: Giulio Ongaro, Luca Mocarelli, Marco Fincardi, Michele Nani, Stefano Gallo, Roberto Parisini, Alessandro Cristofori, Gian Paolo Ghirardini, Luca Baldissara, Teresa Isenburg, Walter Tucci, Annalisa Cegna, Niccolò Mignemi, Sara Roncaglia, Matteo di Tullio, Claudio Lorenzini.