Research

 

You will find a complete range of our monographs, muti-authored and edited works including peer-reviewed, original scholarly research across the social sciences and aligned disciplines. We publish long and short form research and you can browse the complete Bristol University Press and Policy Press archive of over 1,500 titles.

Policy Press also publishes policy reviews and polemic work which aim to challenge policy and practice in certain fields. These books have a practitioner in mind and are practical, accessible in style, as well as being academically sound and referenced.
 

Books: Research

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The COVID-19 pandemic reveals economic, social and cultural fragilities even in those countries that were considered structurally solid. Among the most damaged sectors, the higher education and training sector stands out with serious consequences for its stakeholders. This chapter deals with the COVID-19 emergency in Italian higher education. The emergency pointed out some vulnerabilities of Italian universities but also enlightened their resilience. In a short time, most of them were able to ensure teaching activities continuity by moving online. Teaching activities are among the main aims of higher education, but they are often taken for granted and undervalued, with research activities receiving more attention. The pandemic brought teaching activities back to the centre of attention. Therefore, it became fundamental to redesign teaching activities using distance learning methods even if almost all stakeholders (including university lecturers) were unprepared. In addition to the difficulties in accepting and using information technologies, lecturers challenged themselves with planning and designing new forms of teaching to protect students’ attendance and ensure adequate learning. The chapter reflects on the experience of the University of Milan-Bicocca. It discusses the outcomes of survey research administered to university staff and proposes new teaching strategies moving beyond the emergency.

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The earthquake that occurred on 23 November 1980 has been one of the largest disastrous seismic events in Italy. It affected a large area in Southern Italy, destroyed dozens of towns and caused thousands of deaths. After four decades, the traces of destruction, temporary solutions and reconstruction are still evident in the landscape. Above all, we can find personal experiences and interpretations of these long-term processes in the memory of affected population. Through the analysis of some testimonies collected in the affected areas, this chapter illustrates how the inhabitants perceive the changes that occurred and transmitted their experiences within the community and through the generations. These changes concern the sudden disappearance of the lived space, the loss of human life, the mourning, the choices for reconstruction and the economic changes, as well as the trauma and a shared social experience that has influenced people’s lives and expectations for years. These elements are embodied in the social fabric and, in their testimonies, local communities give a new meaning to their history. The chapter demonstrates that a long adaptation process begins after each disaster. A perspective on memory helps us to investigate in depth the complex relationships between human beings and their environment.

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Vesuvius is one of the most worrying volcanoes in the world, because it is located in a vast urbanized area with millions of inhabitants. After its last eruption in 1944, volcanologists believe that Vesuvius is in a dormant phase of unknown duration. To prepare for future eruptions, the Italian government issued a ‘National Emergency Plan’ in 1995, which divided the exposed area into several danger zones (red, yellow, and blue). The red zone now includes the 24 municipalities closest to the volcano and potentially affected by volcanic material. The yellow zone includes 63 municipalities across three provinces (Naples, Salerno and Avellino) and over 1 million people. While the political agenda focuses on the red zone, it dedicates less attention to the yellow zone, which is considered, wrongly, less dangerous. This chapter focuses on the Agro Nocerino-Sarnese, an area in the yellow zone comprising 16 municipalities and around 300,000 inhabitants. Historically agricultural, this area has radically changed since the Second World War, in a combination of limited restrictions on urban development and scarce prevention and preparedness measures. Therefore, the yellow zone continues to grow by pursuing chaotic patterns of urban expansion, which prevent proper risk planning.

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This book aimed at exploring to what extent disaster (and disaster recovery) change the affected places. The book argues that after a disaster the affected places change how people make sense and perceive their place, how politics provides for the needs of the people, how different knowledges interact in managing affected places, as well as how organizations perform their everyday activities. The book provided a journey about these changes occurring in different post-disaster contexts in Italy. Its chapters focused on cases from the North to South of the country, from islands to mainland, and from rural to urban areas, covering a range of post-disaster environments after hazards occurred very recently (from earthquakes in 2016–2017 to the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020) or decades ago (the Vesuvius eruption in 1944 or the Irpinia earthquake in 1980). In Part I, contributors shared their views on how case studies can illustrate main changes into society. In this regard, some contributors focused on the different perceptions about risk. As internationally demonstrated, risk and disaster perceptions must be taken into account to communicate and elaborate public actions and interventions (Alcántara-Ayala and Moreno, 2016). However, these perceptions vary greatly across people and communities. In Chapter 1, Dall’Ò explored this variety, demonstrating the existence of different perceptions across local communities, experts and institutions about landslide risk in a mountain area of Northwest Italy. In this area, the struggle is how to build social and political consensus around landslide risk reduction measures. To do this, exploring the way risk is negotiated, understood, and both accepted and contested locally is important to undertake fruitful ways to implement disaster risk reduction.

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This chapter deals with the pandemic management in Italy. It portrays the entanglement of different administrative levels and unveils both the nature of the complex game between these levels and its resulting blurred configurations. Local set-ups are the outcome of adaptive processes that combine both technical and political aspects. Indeed, for much of the Italian political world, Covid-19 has become both a stage and an opportunity to climb the ladder of power and blow political competitors. A similar situation results in a complex framework, which does not bode well for effectiveness. Things get even more complicated when similar configurations develop within an ideological scenario that is characterized by institutional distrust and diffusion of irrational beliefs. In such a situation, social cohesion decreases, and the population follows different emotive and cognitive tactics to deal with uncertainty and fear. One of these tactics consists in the diffusion of forms of political reliance that turn into charismatic forms of political worship, a necessary condition for the consolidation of populist authoritarianism. I analyse the surrealistic case of the city of Messina (Sicily) and its Mayor, Cateno De Luca, as a particular case and ‘stage’ to expose the biases of the Italian way to the pandemics.

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Contemporary Perspectives from Italy
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From earthquakes to oil spills, Italy is recurrently affected by different kinds of disasters. This book brings a critical perspective to post-disaster reconstruction and recovery, which can impact in both the short- and long- term upon society, politics and organisations.

It is often assumed that disaster-hit areas return to normality or even ‘build back better’ thanks to the interventions of experts. Giuseppe Forino considers the complexities of disaster recovery and the sometimes radical changes in individual and collective behaviours that persist following such events. Bringing together the impacts of natural hazards (including climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic), this edited book will stimulate debate on policy and practice in disaster recovery.

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From earthquakes to oil spills, Italy is recurrently affected by different kinds of disasters. This book brings a critical perspective to post-disaster reconstruction and recovery, which can impact in both the short and long term upon society, politics and organizations. It is often assumed that disaster-hit areas return to normality or even ‘build back better’ thanks to the interventions of experts. Giuseppe Forino considers the complexities of disaster recovery and the sometimes radical changes in individual and collective behaviours that persist following such events. Bringing together the impacts of natural hazards (including climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic), this edited book will stimulate debate on policy and practice in disaster recovery

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From a socio-cultural perspective, disasters are social events that can be spatially and temporally analysed as the product of the interconnections between the impact of a physical event and a specific territorial, socio-cultural and economic-political context. Accordingly, detailed knowledge, policies, decisions, behaviours and practices can increase the impacts of physical events and make socially produced responses unsuccessful. Ethnographically exploring the post-disaster reconstruction phase provides a deeper understanding of the socio-cultural dynamics triggered by disasters within this context. This chapter analyses the socio-cultural dynamics produced in Emilia (Italy) after the earthquakes of 20 and 29 May 2012 as a response to the post-disaster management by the techno-bureaucratic apparatus. It investigates the different perspectives on the reconstruction conceived and implemented by national and local institutions. It also explores aspirations nourished by the desires of the affected population and the role of professionals (architects, engineers and surveyors) involved in loss and damage assessment for accessing reconstruction financial contributions. The chapter relies on in-depth ethnographic research (2012–18) and explores the meaning of post-disaster reconstruction, the knowledge and power relations created, and the discourses produced by different actors.

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Disaster recovery is always a challenging time for affected places. Places, people, environments and economies try to function and perform again, moving forward across rubble, dust, pain and death. Disaster recovery is therefore the process by which a system that has experienced a structural failure re-establishes a routine, organized, institutionalized mode of adaptation to its post-impact environment (Bates and Peacock, 1989). This emphasizes the reorganization of social life and the creation of a new, stable relationship between social and environmental features (Bates and Peacock, 1989). Therefore, disaster recovery is a complex process where different actors play a game, interact, conflict and discuss what, how, why to rebuild and recover. At a glance, disaster recovery is always a challenging time for affected places. Several common misconceptions, however, exist around the efforts for recovering places. One is that it is often stated that recovery efforts should be oriented towards bringing back the affected places and their social, political, institutional and organizational features at their ‘normal’ state, to regain an undefined normalcy (Rivera, 2020). But, we can argue, if that state of normalcy prior to the disaster was unable to avoid the occurrence of a disaster, this state of normalcy needs to be changed. Also, who and what define ‘normalcy’? Neoliberal societies such as the contemporary, globalized and hyperconnected ones consist of a complex set of actions, procedures, and flows interacting across scales, spaces and places. These can be highly dynamic and quickly change also into so-called remote places. Normalcy, therefore, hardly exists. Places changes, so do humans, so do environments.

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Ischia is a volcanic island that became a popular tourist destination in the 20th century. However, this caused a sharp increase in anthropogenic pressure. No earthquakes were recorded for over 130 years, until in August 2017 an earthquake shook the municipality of Casamicciola, causing two deaths and thousands of displaced persons. Five years later, despite announcements by politicians, reconstruction has not begun, 1,400 people are still displaced, and at least 400 have changed residence. The institutional machine has had three ‘extraordinary commissioners’ and has produced many studies and plans, but many citizens have decided to reconstruct without the support of the government. The long delay in reconstruction has caused a general disillusionment, so that some believe that the ‘phantom reconstruction’ is like a ‘second death’. The crisis of the tourism sector since 2020 is added to this, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine (with the collapse of international tourism, especially from Russia) and a landslide that killed 12 people on 26 November 2022. The ‘latency time’ that always follows a disaster is further subjected to further slackening from a bureaucratic system that, to guarantee control and equity, not only generates uncertainty towards the future but also fragments local communities.

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