Vol. 8 (2020): Democrazia dei luoghi: azioni e forme di autogoverno comunitario / Democracy of places: actions and forms of community self-government

Democrazia in azione e governo del territorio: divergenze e connessioni possibili

Angela Barbanente
Polytechnic University of Bari, Department of environmental and civil enineering
Published December 12, 2020
  • community self-organisation,
  • democratic participation,
  • territorial government,
  • territorial planning,
  • socio-spacial inequalities
How to Cite
Barbanente, A. (2020). Democrazia in azione e governo del territorio. Scienze Del Territorio, 8. https://doi.org/10.13128/sdt-11926


The spread and growing importance assumed, also in Italy, by a variety of actions revealing a new key role of social organizations and groups in transforming parts of cities and territories, diverge to a large extent from institutionalised practices of territorial government. In an era characterized by a strong delegitimization of the ‘public’, this disconnection produces a series of negative consequences. Among these, the risk not only of not affecting the increasing socio-spatial inequalities, but also of widening the gap between citizens and institutions, fuelling possessive individualism and populisms. The irruption of active citizenship into the practices of territorial transformation implies a significant detachment from the interpretation of participatory democracy prevailing in the theory and practice of spatial planning: the focus shifts from opening spaces for decision and public choice to different stakeholders to widening spaces for active mobilization of citizens in the production and reproduction of their living environments. The contribution reflects on the need to rebuild the problematic relationship between grassroots initiatives and territorial planning and on the horizons of possibilities towards community self-government opened by a different interpretation of ‘public’ territorial governance.


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