Moving back to the land is, from different perspectives, a fascinating topic that has been on stage since the sixties. Since then, new forms of rurality have become an upcoming phenomenon on the media, still today we often hear of unexpected success of rural entrepreneurs who reinvented their life, they represent their triumph as reaction to market failure and city-life depression. From a sociological point of view, it is an exciting counter-cultural subject. How to study neo-rurality nowadays? Speaking in contemporary terms, we can talk about changes in rurality, taking Rural Social Innovation as our approach. As we’ll see, social innovation is as appropriate as ambiguous when it comes to the research implementation, lacking in the specificity of the definition. Therefore, I decided to integrate the conceptual framework with two more solid theoretical approaches: social capital and moral market, which may analytically help understand and investigate the topic. From that, a research question rises, followed by an intense fieldwork. Let’s go step by step, starting by introducing the study. a) The topic: Neo-rurality In the first chapter I explain the topic. Rurality studies connect different disciplines: sociology (marginality, mobility, market dynamics); geography (distance and periphery); policies and normative discourse (inner areas and rurality). ‘Back-to-the-land’ generally refers to the adoption of agriculture as a full-time vocation by people who have come from non-agricultural lifestyles or education. Originated in the 1960s, it situates back-to-the-landers as part of broader counterculture practices (Belasco, 2006). The back-to-the-land movement of the 1960s and 70s is often framed in relation to general cultural currents that encouraged “dropping out” of mainstream society in search of alternatives. “Multiplying fivefold between 1965 and 1970” writes Belasco (1989: 76) of communal back-to-the-land projects, “3,500 or so country communes put the counterculture into group practice”. During the 1970s, the “protestant neo-ruralism” (neoruralismo protestatario, Merlo, 2006) conceives rural areas as the place where an alternative way of life can be experienced through the creation of an alternative agricultural production process. That approach refuses completely the Green Revolution (GR) paradigm (Shiva, 2016). Later, the development of alternative agricultural production was embedded in the agro-ecological paradigm, then absorbed by the global industrial system through the creation of organic certifications. Such a process of integration has developed a new critical reflection on food production and market relations. Neo-rurality is the frame that collects different approaches which are changing rural areas on different levels. It calls for attention to the relation between environmental issues, rural crisis and territorial issues (Ferraresi, 2013). Neo-rural farmers try a new model that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, protects biodiversity and promotes local quality food. In fact, production of quality food is key for the activation of practices and community relationships within the horizon of agro-ecological values. In Italy, pioneers of the alternative movements came from different backgrounds: the radical left, the ecologist movement and the anti-conformist or alternative movements. Also, a pioneering phase was characterized by a multiplicity of regional-level and often unconnected initiatives (Fonte, Cucchi, 2015). Ferraresi (2013) describes ‘Neo-rurality’ as a new, social and complex economy. Born partly in response to expansion of industrial food and partly due to the survival of some systems that resisted to conversion, we see emerging new or resurgent forms of production, trade and consumption, latterly conceptualised by academics as ‘Alternative Agro-Food Networks’ (AAFNs) or ‘Alternative Food Networks’ (AFNs). Movements become key players in the definition of new market places (Friedmann, 2005). Food movements act as an engine of awareness in consumption, and address issues that are core for social and media consensus, for instance health, environment, quality of life (Goodman, 1999), and also social justice and fair trade (Elzen et al., 2010). A second important effect of AAFNs is the empowerment of consumers, a leverage on citizenship action for the transformation of consumption behaviours into political action (Goodman, DuPuis, 2002). Exponents of neo-rural economy, as part of AAFNs, have promoted participation in alternative infrastructures contrasting the conventional market system, developing specific organisational forms, negotiating new forms of collaborative economy (Kostakis, Bauwens, 2014). They thus blur the distinction between public sphere and private sphere (Tormey, 2007). The AAFNs, as shown in the article by Murano and Forno (2017), has three main drivers shaping the form of development of this type of collective action: 1. Greater citizen awareness around economic, social and environmental sustainability issues; 2. The loss of purchasing power within important portions of the middle class, due to the increasing unemployment rates following the recession which started in 2007-2008; 3. General loss of meaning, due to the consumerism and the depletion of social relations, along with the decoupling of GDP growth and happiness (as suggested by the paradox Easterlin, 1974), people’s search for a meaning in their life (Castells, Caraça, Cardoso, 2012) which seems to have been lost in a consumer society threatened by an economic, environmental and social crisis (D’Alisa et al., 2015). Tradition of local governance studies focuses on central areas, hi-tech districts, city-regions, overlooking the role of less industrialized areas, that actually represent two thirds of Italy. Northern Italy has been considered as a cluster of industrial development. Given current globalization forces, taking for granted recent government interest in undeveloped areas, inner areas have a stake in getting involved in wider market dynamics and renewed resources. An important contribution to the EU debate on territorial marginalisation has been provided by the Italian government’s innovative approach to ‘Inner Areas’ (DPS, 2014). The government mapped all municipalities and categorized them according to their degree of remoteness from services, consistently with criteria that the debate on Foundational Economy indicates as key factors of spatial (in)justice. The emerging picture offers a polycentric connotation of the Italian territory. The geography of the inner peripheries includes mountain and coastal areas, as well as hilly and lowland areas, but provides no conclusive evidence to establish correlations between morphological conditions and degree of remoteness. The second chapter is dedicated to theoretical approaches: Rural Social Innovation, Social Capital and Sociology of Markets. b) Rural Social Innovation The neo-rurality phenomenon is strictly connected to Rural Social Innovation. Social innovation is a term on everyone’s lips, indicating change and development, including social effects. Social Innovation is not specifically mentioned in literature on regional development, but in the more nuanced models we find that most important features are trust among actors, informal ties and untraded interdependencies between actors, which are key factors determining positive differentials in economic performance. Rural Social Innovation is helpfully used in many studies (Bock, 2012). Still, even though it is currently a very relevant phenomenon, Social Innovation itself is a critic concept, it is both one of the most common and ant the most unclear concepts nowadays. Because of its credits to local development, social networks and economic outcomes, I decided to use two more analytical sociological concepts to understand the phenomenon: social capital and sociology of markets. c) Social Capital Individuals generally pursue major life events—marriage, occupational choice—as part of a social network or group. As an exemplum, engaging in the creation of a new firm is generally done in a network of social relationships (Aldrich, 2005; Reynolds, 1991; Thornton, 1999); in that sense entrepreneurship can be considered a social phenomenon, rather than solely one of individual career choice. Social capital is a conscious use of embeddedness, the use of relations and resources for a purpose. According to Coleman (1988), social capital is defined by its function. It is not a single entity but a variety of different entities, with two elements in common: they all consist of some aspects of social structures, and they facilitate certain actions of actors within the structure. Coleman refers to the social structure that enables access to resources. Additionally, we can also recall Bourdieu, who sees social capital as the aggregate of actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance or recognition. And Putnam pointing at three components: moral obligation and norms; social values (trust); and social networks (voluntary association). d) Sociology of Markets The structure of markets can be reduced to its minimal components, that are a buyer and two sellers which compete according to some defined rules (Aspers, 2006b). Relations among actors can be of exchange, as between buyers and sellers, or of competition, as between producers. In the structure of markets, people also mobilize beliefs, ethics, values and views of the common good to talk about the effects of market processes (Boltanski, Thevenot, 2006). As pointed in the recent book published by Granovetter “Society and Economy” (2017:28) The fact that people seek simultaneously economic and non-economic goals is an unprecedented challenge for that economic analysis that focuses only on one of the two horns, as for sociology that focuses only on the other. Current theories of action in social sciences offer little knowledge of how individuals mix these goals. We can therefore recall Zelizer (2007) highlighting that economists and sociologists face a common presumption: the twinned stories of separate spheres and hostile worlds. Separate spheres indicate a distinction between two arenas, one for rational economic activity, a sphere of calculation and efficiency, and one for personal relations, a sphere of sentiment and solidarity. The companion doctrine of hostile worlds affirms that contact between the spheres generates contamination and disorder: economic rationality degrades intimacy, and close relationships obstruct efficiency. Moral economy is based on this attack on the common presumption. According to these considerations on ways that shape relationships and market, the main question that rises is: “Are values and social relationship separate from the market?”. e) The Research During my PhD studies I worked on an answer to this question. In the third chapter I present the case of alternative agro-food movements and neo-rurality in urban and inner areas in the region of Campania (southern Italy). The study is based on qualitative research design, composed of fieldwork and interviews, undertaken in Campania during 2014-2016, where inner and central areas are the scenery of innovative development processes, founded on structural and territorial resources, as well as on individual and social capitals. Here I present you with a quote from an Italian journalist, Alessandro Leogrande, recalling the most important anthropologist of southern Italy, Ernesto Demartino: In a complex society, old elements and new elements continue to coexist, traits of modernity and traits of archaisms, pre-Christian segments and post-Christian segments, or entirely de-Christianised ones. It seems to me that the [Italian] South of these years, precisely in the light of a Demartino’s analysis, fully returns the overlapping of these various layers. (Leogrande, 2016) I wish you a pleasant journey throughout my pages, at the discovery of neo-rural dynamics in southern Italy, a special place for meeting contradictions, traces of ancient and futuristic art, holy and desacralized behaviours, traditional and innovative practices.

MORAL ECONOMY OF NEO-RURALITY BETWEEN URBAN AND INNER AREAS. ALTERNATIVE AGRO-FOOD MARKETS IN CAMPANIA / B. Orria ; supervisor: F. Barbera ; coordinatore: G. Ballarino. - : . Universita' degli Studi di MILANO, 2018 Jun 07. ((29. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2016. [10.13130/orria-brigida_phd2018-06-07].

MORAL ECONOMY OF NEO-RURALITY BETWEEN URBAN AND INNER AREAS. ALTERNATIVE AGRO-FOOD MARKETS IN CAMPANIA

B. Orria
2018

Abstract

Moving back to the land is, from different perspectives, a fascinating topic that has been on stage since the sixties. Since then, new forms of rurality have become an upcoming phenomenon on the media, still today we often hear of unexpected success of rural entrepreneurs who reinvented their life, they represent their triumph as reaction to market failure and city-life depression. From a sociological point of view, it is an exciting counter-cultural subject. How to study neo-rurality nowadays? Speaking in contemporary terms, we can talk about changes in rurality, taking Rural Social Innovation as our approach. As we’ll see, social innovation is as appropriate as ambiguous when it comes to the research implementation, lacking in the specificity of the definition. Therefore, I decided to integrate the conceptual framework with two more solid theoretical approaches: social capital and moral market, which may analytically help understand and investigate the topic. From that, a research question rises, followed by an intense fieldwork. Let’s go step by step, starting by introducing the study. a) The topic: Neo-rurality In the first chapter I explain the topic. Rurality studies connect different disciplines: sociology (marginality, mobility, market dynamics); geography (distance and periphery); policies and normative discourse (inner areas and rurality). ‘Back-to-the-land’ generally refers to the adoption of agriculture as a full-time vocation by people who have come from non-agricultural lifestyles or education. Originated in the 1960s, it situates back-to-the-landers as part of broader counterculture practices (Belasco, 2006). The back-to-the-land movement of the 1960s and 70s is often framed in relation to general cultural currents that encouraged “dropping out” of mainstream society in search of alternatives. “Multiplying fivefold between 1965 and 1970” writes Belasco (1989: 76) of communal back-to-the-land projects, “3,500 or so country communes put the counterculture into group practice”. During the 1970s, the “protestant neo-ruralism” (neoruralismo protestatario, Merlo, 2006) conceives rural areas as the place where an alternative way of life can be experienced through the creation of an alternative agricultural production process. That approach refuses completely the Green Revolution (GR) paradigm (Shiva, 2016). Later, the development of alternative agricultural production was embedded in the agro-ecological paradigm, then absorbed by the global industrial system through the creation of organic certifications. Such a process of integration has developed a new critical reflection on food production and market relations. Neo-rurality is the frame that collects different approaches which are changing rural areas on different levels. It calls for attention to the relation between environmental issues, rural crisis and territorial issues (Ferraresi, 2013). Neo-rural farmers try a new model that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, protects biodiversity and promotes local quality food. In fact, production of quality food is key for the activation of practices and community relationships within the horizon of agro-ecological values. In Italy, pioneers of the alternative movements came from different backgrounds: the radical left, the ecologist movement and the anti-conformist or alternative movements. Also, a pioneering phase was characterized by a multiplicity of regional-level and often unconnected initiatives (Fonte, Cucchi, 2015). Ferraresi (2013) describes ‘Neo-rurality’ as a new, social and complex economy. Born partly in response to expansion of industrial food and partly due to the survival of some systems that resisted to conversion, we see emerging new or resurgent forms of production, trade and consumption, latterly conceptualised by academics as ‘Alternative Agro-Food Networks’ (AAFNs) or ‘Alternative Food Networks’ (AFNs). Movements become key players in the definition of new market places (Friedmann, 2005). Food movements act as an engine of awareness in consumption, and address issues that are core for social and media consensus, for instance health, environment, quality of life (Goodman, 1999), and also social justice and fair trade (Elzen et al., 2010). A second important effect of AAFNs is the empowerment of consumers, a leverage on citizenship action for the transformation of consumption behaviours into political action (Goodman, DuPuis, 2002). Exponents of neo-rural economy, as part of AAFNs, have promoted participation in alternative infrastructures contrasting the conventional market system, developing specific organisational forms, negotiating new forms of collaborative economy (Kostakis, Bauwens, 2014). They thus blur the distinction between public sphere and private sphere (Tormey, 2007). The AAFNs, as shown in the article by Murano and Forno (2017), has three main drivers shaping the form of development of this type of collective action: 1. Greater citizen awareness around economic, social and environmental sustainability issues; 2. The loss of purchasing power within important portions of the middle class, due to the increasing unemployment rates following the recession which started in 2007-2008; 3. General loss of meaning, due to the consumerism and the depletion of social relations, along with the decoupling of GDP growth and happiness (as suggested by the paradox Easterlin, 1974), people’s search for a meaning in their life (Castells, Caraça, Cardoso, 2012) which seems to have been lost in a consumer society threatened by an economic, environmental and social crisis (D’Alisa et al., 2015). Tradition of local governance studies focuses on central areas, hi-tech districts, city-regions, overlooking the role of less industrialized areas, that actually represent two thirds of Italy. Northern Italy has been considered as a cluster of industrial development. Given current globalization forces, taking for granted recent government interest in undeveloped areas, inner areas have a stake in getting involved in wider market dynamics and renewed resources. An important contribution to the EU debate on territorial marginalisation has been provided by the Italian government’s innovative approach to ‘Inner Areas’ (DPS, 2014). The government mapped all municipalities and categorized them according to their degree of remoteness from services, consistently with criteria that the debate on Foundational Economy indicates as key factors of spatial (in)justice. The emerging picture offers a polycentric connotation of the Italian territory. The geography of the inner peripheries includes mountain and coastal areas, as well as hilly and lowland areas, but provides no conclusive evidence to establish correlations between morphological conditions and degree of remoteness. The second chapter is dedicated to theoretical approaches: Rural Social Innovation, Social Capital and Sociology of Markets. b) Rural Social Innovation The neo-rurality phenomenon is strictly connected to Rural Social Innovation. Social innovation is a term on everyone’s lips, indicating change and development, including social effects. Social Innovation is not specifically mentioned in literature on regional development, but in the more nuanced models we find that most important features are trust among actors, informal ties and untraded interdependencies between actors, which are key factors determining positive differentials in economic performance. Rural Social Innovation is helpfully used in many studies (Bock, 2012). Still, even though it is currently a very relevant phenomenon, Social Innovation itself is a critic concept, it is both one of the most common and ant the most unclear concepts nowadays. Because of its credits to local development, social networks and economic outcomes, I decided to use two more analytical sociological concepts to understand the phenomenon: social capital and sociology of markets. c) Social Capital Individuals generally pursue major life events—marriage, occupational choice—as part of a social network or group. As an exemplum, engaging in the creation of a new firm is generally done in a network of social relationships (Aldrich, 2005; Reynolds, 1991; Thornton, 1999); in that sense entrepreneurship can be considered a social phenomenon, rather than solely one of individual career choice. Social capital is a conscious use of embeddedness, the use of relations and resources for a purpose. According to Coleman (1988), social capital is defined by its function. It is not a single entity but a variety of different entities, with two elements in common: they all consist of some aspects of social structures, and they facilitate certain actions of actors within the structure. Coleman refers to the social structure that enables access to resources. Additionally, we can also recall Bourdieu, who sees social capital as the aggregate of actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance or recognition. And Putnam pointing at three components: moral obligation and norms; social values (trust); and social networks (voluntary association). d) Sociology of Markets The structure of markets can be reduced to its minimal components, that are a buyer and two sellers which compete according to some defined rules (Aspers, 2006b). Relations among actors can be of exchange, as between buyers and sellers, or of competition, as between producers. In the structure of markets, people also mobilize beliefs, ethics, values and views of the common good to talk about the effects of market processes (Boltanski, Thevenot, 2006). As pointed in the recent book published by Granovetter “Society and Economy” (2017:28) The fact that people seek simultaneously economic and non-economic goals is an unprecedented challenge for that economic analysis that focuses only on one of the two horns, as for sociology that focuses only on the other. Current theories of action in social sciences offer little knowledge of how individuals mix these goals. We can therefore recall Zelizer (2007) highlighting that economists and sociologists face a common presumption: the twinned stories of separate spheres and hostile worlds. Separate spheres indicate a distinction between two arenas, one for rational economic activity, a sphere of calculation and efficiency, and one for personal relations, a sphere of sentiment and solidarity. The companion doctrine of hostile worlds affirms that contact between the spheres generates contamination and disorder: economic rationality degrades intimacy, and close relationships obstruct efficiency. Moral economy is based on this attack on the common presumption. According to these considerations on ways that shape relationships and market, the main question that rises is: “Are values and social relationship separate from the market?”. e) The Research During my PhD studies I worked on an answer to this question. In the third chapter I present the case of alternative agro-food movements and neo-rurality in urban and inner areas in the region of Campania (southern Italy). The study is based on qualitative research design, composed of fieldwork and interviews, undertaken in Campania during 2014-2016, where inner and central areas are the scenery of innovative development processes, founded on structural and territorial resources, as well as on individual and social capitals. Here I present you with a quote from an Italian journalist, Alessandro Leogrande, recalling the most important anthropologist of southern Italy, Ernesto Demartino: In a complex society, old elements and new elements continue to coexist, traits of modernity and traits of archaisms, pre-Christian segments and post-Christian segments, or entirely de-Christianised ones. It seems to me that the [Italian] South of these years, precisely in the light of a Demartino’s analysis, fully returns the overlapping of these various layers. (Leogrande, 2016) I wish you a pleasant journey throughout my pages, at the discovery of neo-rural dynamics in southern Italy, a special place for meeting contradictions, traces of ancient and futuristic art, holy and desacralized behaviours, traditional and innovative practices.
BARBERA, FILIPPO
BALLARINO, GABRIELE
rurality; markets ; collaborative economy; urban; neo-rurality; moral market
Settore SPS/09 - Sociologia dei Processi economici e del Lavoro
Settore SPS/07 - Sociologia Generale
Settore IUS/07 - Diritto del Lavoro
Settore SECS-P/07 - Economia Aziendale
Settore SECS-P/10 - Organizzazione Aziendale
Settore SECS-S/04 - Demografia
Settore M-PSI/05 - Psicologia Sociale
MORAL ECONOMY OF NEO-RURALITY BETWEEN URBAN AND INNER AREAS. ALTERNATIVE AGRO-FOOD MARKETS IN CAMPANIA / B. Orria ; supervisor: F. Barbera ; coordinatore: G. Ballarino. - : . Universita' degli Studi di MILANO, 2018 Jun 07. ((29. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2016. [10.13130/orria-brigida_phd2018-06-07].
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