Research Projects

THE CITY AS LIVING SPACE. A social ecology of Padua and its metropolitan area within a European Perspective of today's urban life. Meanings and Social Practices from the present to the future generations.

Ambito disciplinare Sociologia

Tipologia finanziamento Istituzionale

Ente Finanziatore ATENEO - Progetti di Ricerca di Ateneo

Data avvio: 16 February 2015

Data termine: 28 February 2017


The project concerns a research on the model of social ecology of Padua and its metropolitan area. This would be the first carried out in an Italian middle-sized city considering natives, migrants, and migrant by origins’ residents as actors for the ongoing processes for the European substantive citizenship. The main question concerns “how we can live together in diversity” (Touraine 2005), considering that the increasing multidiversity of cities mirrors the crisis of a historically settled model of urban life. The hypothesis identifies Padua as a paradigmatic case study for understandings the challenges in middle-sized European cities, facing globalization, international migrations and new patterns of civic stratification. On the cultural level, these cities feature the deepening of the individualization of meanings, the secularization of social practices and the fragmentation of social bonds. The research question is if and how new forms of social ties allow citizens to perform dynamics of mutual recognition, treasuring their diversities and managing the ongoing changes. The research proposes an investigation on the transformations of urban context focusing on gender and life-course dynamics (meaning and social practices) of young-adult subjects. 
The analytical dimensions are:
a) the definitions of the city as a multicultural polis as perceived by its inhabitants; 
b) the actual conditions for the reproduction of different cultural identities as well as of common “organized memories”;
c) the comprehension of the "other’s meanings and of the symbolic conflicts on redefinition of social bonds;
d) the social representation of the ongoing crisis and the future perspectives of the urban life, related to people's expectations and to their perceptions for "feeling at home" where they are living and where they expect to live. 
Starting from a bottom-up discussion on the meanings of social indicators concerning the area, the research Project will adopt a variety of qualitative research methods (participant observation; social cartographies, focus group, walk about, story telling, biographical interviews) in order to investigate four thematic areas - family, work, religion and political participation - and to detect the differentiation of models of organization, meanings and social practices in life spheres. Moreover a co-production approach (Pahl 2012) will be adopted for reshaping the power asymmetry in the research field with the aim to trace the lines for a Forum on "Togetherness" and for an Observatory on Padua and its area.
The study of the family will be focused on: a) the extension of the definition of family; b) the transformation of the definition of marriage; c) individuals' and couples' reproductive decisions; d) the relation between family life and urban life in the representation of “home” and “homeland”; d) the extension of familiarity as it is experienced in “third spaces ” (parks, river banks, ...). 
The study of work will take into consideration: a) the changes in the meaning of work; b) social networks which sustain diverse competences and careers; c) local social practices where gender, class and ethnic diversity most clearly emerge. 
As for religious meanings and social practices, the research will consider: a) the transformation of meanings related to the localisation of cultural systems; b) how religion helps defining and transforming public space, permanently or provisionally; c) practices and meanings of lived religious phenomena in institutional religious places, in occasion of sociability, in public events, in “third” spaces such as hospitals, health structures.
The investigation of the relationship between social participation and urban space will be focused on: a) practices and meanings produced by social movements through their communitarian networks; b) the re-appropriation of urban spaces by the participation in non-communitarian social events and forms of protest.