CAPABILITIES AND COMMUNITY BUILDING: TWO CASE STUDIES OF SOCIAL INNOVATION IN NAPLES

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    CAPABILITIES AND COMMUNITY BUILDING:TWO CASE STUDIES OF SOCIAL INNOVATION IN NAPLES

    Pasquale De Muro

    Dipartimento di EconomiaUniversit degli Studi Roma Tre, demuro@uniroma3.it

    Ph. +39 0657374076 / Fax +39 0657374093

    Paola Di Martino & Lucia Cavola

    Iter srl centro ricerche e servizi, itersrl@tin.it

    Ph. +39 081418596 / Fax +39 081406866

    AbstractWe present two case studies of social innovation against deprivation and social exclusion in Naples.

    The two cases have been studied within the SINGOCOM research project. The first case refers to the

    neighbourhood Quartieri Spagnoli, where a voluntary-based association started in the Seventies to fight the

    widespread human poverty by fostering the capabilities of deprived citizens, especially women and theirchildren. The initiative succeeded in activating basic functionings and awareness, thus the association became a

    reference for the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. In the Eighties and Nineties the association got the attention

    of public institutions and started new projects of neighbourhood development funded by central and local

    government, and EU. The second case is located in Scampia, a neighbourhood in the outskirts, and started more

    recently. A network of civic associations is trying to build a piazza (square), that is a place where the local

    community can meet and live collective initiatives in order to (re)construct social relations, especially among

    young people, that are blocked and corrupted, on one side, by criminality and, on the other side, by a neglectful

    city planning. The civic network succeeded in enhancing local social capital and fighting social exclusion;

    furthermore, they developed a planning project for the piazza. The use of ICTs had a relevant role in the

    community networking. Notwithstanding, local government has still not paid any tangible attention to those

    bottom-up initiatives in Scampia.

    Keywordssocial innovation, community building, capabilities, governance, Naples

    1. Introduction

    In this paper we present the results of two cases of social innovation in neighbourhood development in the

    municipal area of Naples, that have been studied within the Social Innovation, Governance and Community

    Building(SINGOCOM) research project funded by the European Union.

    The first study refers to the Quartieri Spagnolineighbourhood, in the old part of Naples, an area with a high

    level of physical and social decay. Here, at the end of the 1970s, a voluntary-based initiative that was

    predominantly inspired by the philanthropic solidarity of critical and dissenting Christian movements started

    with the intention of supporting the resident population and helping them meet needs for social assistance,housing and solidarity. Formally established in 1989 as Associazione Quartieri Spagnoli(AQS), its main aim

    was to support the population residing in one of the most run-down area in the old part of Naples, in a situation

    characterized by insufficient municipal social services and local and national governments inertia. Over a period

    spanning more than twenty years, the AQS has built a new identity for the area by establishing new institutions

    and social relations. From its outset until 1990, activity was centred on rebuilding the social tissue and trust-

    based relationships. This has allowed the Association to become firmly embedded in the context, intervene in the

    area by working from inside and establish itself as a constant presence and place to turn to when experiencing

    anxiety and hardship.

    Subsequently, after a period of fertilisation, the second stage began and continued throughout the 1990s. In this

    period, the Association played an important role in outlining municipal social policy. It participated in urban

    requalification programmes, closely collaborated with municipal, national and European institutions, received

    European funding and established links with the university and other extended networks. This was a period oftrue institutionalization in which its intervention in the area became stronger and more stable and continuous.

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    As far as results are concerned, the AQS has played an important role in improving the standard of living and

    bringing about changes in attitude, mentality and culture shown by some of the resident population. The

    inhabitants of the area who have taken part in the Associations projects have not only attended training courses,

    found jobs and satisfied other needs that had previously not been met but have also become protagonists and no

    longer consider themselves as passive and disheartened onlookers. Encouraged by these results, municipal

    government has adopted some of the intervention models conceived by members of the Association and has alsoused them in other areas of the city.

    The study of AQS experience has, above all, contributed to recognizing and describing the elements and

    dynamics of social innovation as defined in the SINGOCOM project. It has also been useful in pinpointing the

    factors that have outlined the context in which the AQS has worked and identifying the conditions that have

    contributed to the success of the project and shaped the dynamics of social innovation.

    The second case study concerns the recent experience of Piazziamoci, a network of groups, associations, schools,

    joint owners that was set up in 2001 in the neighbourhood of Scampia, an extremely distressed area in northern

    outskirts of Naples. The aim of the network is to create a Piazzafor Young People in the area through direct

    participation of the civil society in its planning. The initiative was a reaction to top-down urban development

    planning that did not meet citizens needs and consisted predominantly of building with very little concern for

    social problems. Its intention is to affirm an active citizenship model and begin participatory urban planning aspart of the Urban Redevelopment Plan.

    ThePiazzarepresents a goal in a physical sense since the network is trying to include the project in the urban

    plan and the municipal budget and also in a figurative sense as a virtual place where the community, and young

    people in particular, can meet and play a role in neighbourhood development in an innovative way.

    In the study ofPiazziamoci, firstly we present two closely related factors in the area, urban development and the

    complex socio-economic background. We then attempt to understand the circumstances that have led to the

    establishment and development of local grassroots organizations beginning with civic commitment through

    traditional forms of political representation through to discussion with the local public institutions and the

    creation of the Piazziamoci network and its work. Our main objective is to assess the socially innovative content

    of the Piazziamoci project that has yet to be finalized and its impact on social exclusion and urban planning.

    Relations, on the one hand, between intolerable living conditions in the neighbourhood and solutions that thenetwork of associations has tried to find and, on the other, the difficult relations between the network and local

    public administration will be analyzed. Finally, we will try to assess the effect that the voice thatPiazziamoci

    has given to the neighbourhood residents needs for social relations and security has had on local governance.

    The two studies have been conducted mainly through a series of meetings and interviews with the local actors

    related to the initiatives: leaders and members of civil society organisations and neighbourhood associations,

    stakeholders, volunteers, civil servants, representatives of local government, university researchers, parsons and

    religious groups.

    2. Expanding human capabilities in the Quartieri Spagnoli

    2.1. The scenario in which the Associazione Quartieri Spagnoli operates

    2.1.1. Quartieri Spagnoli: a history of hardship and poverty

    The Quartieri Spagnoli area is part of the city of Naples situated behind the town hall and the centrally located

    via Toledo. Building work began in the Viceroyalty period in about 1550 when the Spanish Viceroy decided to

    divide the area into lots to provide accommodation for his troops. Work continued until 1750 when the quarter

    assumed its present-day form. It soon became home to negative military-related activities including prostitution

    and smuggling.

    The area covers just over 500.000 square metres and at present accommodates roughly 3,000 families and 15,000

    people. It has always been a run-down difficult area but is also known for its vitality and wide range of activities.

    At present, there are approximately 250 workshops, 360 shops and many other businesses, 196 yards and 223

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    garages1. The building heritage of the area, that includes buildings of special historical and artistic importance,

    has rapidly deteriorated over the years. The buildings have been subjected to dramatic changes, for the most part,

    without planning permission and maintenance and restoration work has been carried out only recently.

    Due to its physical structure, the Quartieri Spagnoli have always suffered from a shortage of areas where

    residents can meet and socialize. T

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