Elites’ Discourse and Action Toward Inequalities in Italy: The Role of Banking Foundations.
The paper investigates the role of elites in reframing the concept of inequality and how they tackle it: how is it shaped and defined by Fobs programs and by the elites who play a role in them? Which kind of actions do they implement in order to reduce it?
In order to tackle our research questions, we developed an investigation on Italian Fobs and their action in the realm of social policies. Fobs are an exclusive Italian institution: born with the privatization of public banks in 1992, they were entrusted with the philanthropic activities and constrained to invest their assets mainly locally and in defined policy areas. Real institutions of government, Fobs influence public issues at local, national and international scale. They are a place where political, economic and financial power is thickened, so it is here that it is possible to observe elites, co-opted in fob because they are already powerful in other fields. Italian elites’ action and discourse about inequality can be thus analysed in Fobs intervention in orienting and shaping the public discourse and action while tackling inequalities.
In order to carry out the investigation, we analysed the discourses and action of the two main Italian Fobs. Both based in the northern part of Italy, Fondazione Cariplo (Milan) and Compagnia di San Paolo (Turin). An interpretative and comparative approach was used to enlighten similarities and divergences between the two Fobs elites’ emerging visions and actions on inequality, studied longitudinally and diachronically over a medium historical time. Using qualitative methods, a discourse analysis has been carried out on documents produced by the Fobs in the area of social policies (call for bids, online websites about projects and strategic official reports), as well as on in-depth interviews with CEO, managers and executives of the two selected Fobs.