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Cover Caption: A Road in Palermo, photograph included in the papers of W. Averell Harriman, U.S. government exhibit For European Recovery: The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Marshall Plan, Library of Congress.

John A. Marino and Carlo Vecce, Editors

Rossella Carbotti, Managing Editor

Post-War Italy and Beyond the Risorgimento’s 150th Anniversary

Trade Unions and the Origins of the Union-Based Welfare State in Italy (1950s-1970s)

During the second half of the twentieth century, Italy, like many other European countries, experienced the birth and growth of a specific kind of welfare state. It was the consequence of various international influences in the context of the Cold War as well as the result of controversial actions of different internal actors. The purpose of this article is to explore the actions of some of these internal actors and their consequences for the definition of the Italian welfare state.

Specifically, the object of this essay is to identify the role played by trade unions in defining the Italian model of state social policy in the period following World War II. This essay proposes an interpretation which identifies trade unions as main actors in the consolidation, albeit difficult and slow, of the welfare system in Italy. Consequently, this enquiry into the “Italian way” also discusses some traditional explanations and classifications proposed in the literature about the welfare state, welfare regimes, and the welfare society. In particular, this essay introduces the concept of a “Union Based Welfare State” in order to describe the Italian experience and as a descriptive category useful for comparative analyses generally.

Following this working hypothesis, this article assesses one particular aspect of the complex framework of the Italian trade union experience after World War II. It offers a reconstruction of the debate and actions regarding the welfare state questions that feature the two most important Italian trade unions, the Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro (Italian General Council of Labor) (CGIL) and the Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori (Italian Confederation of Workers’ Unions) (CISL).

Moreover, in the essay, a description of the actions of the Istituto Nazionale di Assistenza Sociale (National Institute of Social Assistance) (INAS) and Istituto Nazionale Confederale di Assistenza (Confederated National Institute of Assistance) (INCA) also assists in the investigation of CISL and CGIL’s roles in the welfare state. INAS and INCA are the Patronati (trade union aid societies) of the CISL and CGIL and the tools by which trade unions deal with daily assistance and social security issues.

To summarize, the final goal of this essay is to show how the Italian welfare state experience represents, in the European postwar context, an original “union way” which questions traditional descriptions of the Italian welfare state. In particular, it challenges the description of Italian social policy that uses only the categories of clientelism and familism and instead highlights elements of discontinuity and the central role of trade unions in social policy implementation.


Between Documentary and Neorealism: Marshall Plan Films in Italy (1948-1955)

Using the Marshall Plan Film productions in Italy as a case study, this article re-examines the role of state-sponsored visual information campaigns in renegotiating international documentary film forms, aesthetics, and production networks at the beginning of the Cold War.


Discorsi per Immagini: Of Political and Architectural Experimentation

The essay examines a set of visual critiques created by the Florentines and known as discorsi per immagini. Developed by the experimentalist groups Superstudio and Archizoom from 1968 to 1973, discorsi per immagini emphasized modernist urban planning’s co-opted position within Italian riformismo and aimed to replace it with critical cultural work achieved by a growing visual territory composed of print, critical objects, and design exhibitions. The article takes stock of the political, formal, and technical shifts offered by discorsi per immagini to assess the powers and limitations of Italian experimental architecture, and to speculate on its remaining relevance and possible futures.


Back to the Future (Again): Further Comments on the Risorgimento