Loris Caruso

Theories of the Political Process, Political Opportunities Structure and Local Mobilizations. The Case of Italy



Local mobilizations against infrastructures perceived as harmful to population and territory are, in Italy, one of the forms of collective action which in recent years have grown more. The contrast to party system and the tension between representation and participation are central elements of collective identity in these protests. They have also built innovative experiences in local politics, which have been directly involved in electoral competitions. For all these reasons, local mobilizations are an interesting case to analyze the evolution of the relationship between collective protest and political systems, and to test the most widely used apparatus in the study of this relationship: the theory of political opportunities structure (POS). In this article, the POS model is confronted with a major Italian local mobilization in recent years, the protest in Vicenza against the realization of the Dal Molin military base, and other major Italian local mobilizations. In the Conclusions, three main findings are pinpointed: 1) Unlike what the POS thesis states, a closure of the political opportunity structures incentivizes collective protest; 2) The crisis of mass party and the redefinition of the classic parameters of statehood, necessitate a theoretical re-discussion of the relationship between popular protest and institutional politics; 3) the relationship between social movements and parties is redefining on the base of a new hybridization between the party-form and the movement-form, and through the direct assumption of electoral tasks by social movements.


  • Social Movements
  • Political Parties
  • Politics
  • Political Opportunities Structure
  • Movements and Parties
  • State and Social Movements


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