Laura Fregolent Paolo Perulli Luciano Vettoretto

Social morphology in Italian urbanization

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This paper presents the empirical exploration of the Weberian ideal types of cities discussed by Perulli and Vettoretto's previous essay. Such an exploration is applied to the Italian case, and it is aimed to evaluate the significance, extension, weight and character of the ideal types. In order to develop a proper empirical frame, the paper proposes a conceptual model based on Halbawchs' idea of social morphology. This multidimensional concept has been operationalized through a set of physical, social, economic and demographic dimensions, each of one described by a limited necessary and sufficient set of «active» and a large set of «illustrative» variables. The sets of variables have been processed by techniques of multivariate analysis, in order to find out a robust clustering of the Italian communes in a proper number of groups with different profiles in terms of social morphology. This analysis has produced 12 clusters, which have been compared with the ideal types. Results are, among others: the significance of ideal types in the Italian case; the variety of urbanity models associated with different social morphologies; differences in urban complexity between Central/Norther and Southern Italy; urban corridors as a new geography of Italian urbanization in globalization era; the new urban rurality.


  • Social Morphology
  • Planetary Urbanization
  • Third Italy
  • Post-Metropolis
  • Path-Dependence


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