Social and Structural Changes in Rural Areas of South Tyrol (Northern Italy): A Longitudinal Case Study

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Arcade Courtyard (Main Building)
Christine TSCHOELL, PhD-candidate, Sociology, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy
The PhD research project deals with the social change and coping strategies of individuals and society in rural areas, who are affected, in form of operational closure of the largest employer, by a variation of structural conditions (labour market, family structure, social community, middle class society in transformation, regional and structural development). It addresses the impact of work-based insecurities, rising social inequalities within and across nations, with a specific regional focus on South Tyrol – a small multicultural, rural area in northern Italy, bordering Austria and Switzerland.

The current crises and decline of available jobs leads to contradictory everyday-life experience of individual citizens; their "new normal" involves irregular work histories (with the various forms of precarity, temporary and/or part-time work) rather than a lifelong permanent job.

It now applies in this research project to move forward and to look at the coping strategies. Resilience research focuses on the resources and protective factors of people and asks what helps people to cope with difficult conditions successfully: to overcome the crisis and to come out of the crisis strengthened.

In this context discussions on so-called alternative forms of economic activity and (renewed) growth occur. Different approaches deal with alternative practices of doing business and organizing, which, in the self-understanding on participation, autonomy and solidarity are aligned. Finally, in the case study also cooperatives obtain new attention.

The longitudinal case study is carried out in the period from 2014 to 2016 in a valley in South Tyrol. Thirteen affected people, family members and experts will be accompanied and questioned about three different points of time by theme-centred interviews. The evaluation is carried out with qualitative content analysis. The interview sessions will be finished on January 2016 and first outcomes of the project will be showed in order to discuss future solutions and recommendations.