Autonomia: a movement of refusal: social movements and social conflict in Italy in the 1970's

Cuninghame, Patrick Gun (2002) Autonomia: a movement of refusal: social movements and social conflict in Italy in the 1970's. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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This thesis examines the continuing significance in contemporary Italy of the Italian new social movement of 1973-83, Autonomia, by positing it as a movement of refusal: of capitalist work, of the party form, of the clandestine form of political violence, and of the politics of `taking power'. It was in discontinuity with the value systems of the reformist Old Left and the revolutionary New Left, but in continuity with contemporary Italian antagonist and global anti-capitalist movements.

In defining the research subject, the concept of individual and collective autonomy emerges as a central characteristic of the Italian new social movements. Autonomy is understood not only as independence from the capitalist State and economy and their institutions of mediation, but also as the self-determination of everyday life, related to the needs, desires and subjectivity of what Italian `workerism' defined as the Fordist `mass worker' and the post-Fordist `socialised worker'.

Using the `class composition' theoretical perspective of Autonomist Marxism to critique classical Marxism, neo-Marxism and new social movement theory's minimalisation of the political content of new social movements and dismissive analysis of Autonomia, the scope of research was limited to the interpretation of 48 interviews of former participants and observers, of primary texts produced by Autonomia and of secondary accounts based on `collective historical memory'. The thematic framework consists of chapters on workers' autonomy and the refusal of work; forms of political organisation and violence involving `organised', `diffused' and `armed' Autonomia; and on the youth counter-cultures and antagonist communication of `creative Autonomia' and the 1977 Movement.

The thesis concludes that Autonomia expressed the violent social conflicts produced by the rapid transformation of an industrial into a post-industrial society, but ultimately was only a partial break from the traditions and practices of the Old and New Lefts, leaving an ambiguous legacy for contemporary Italian autonomous social movements.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: A thesis submitted to Middlesex University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Research Areas: B. > Theses
Item ID: 6688
Depositing User: Repository team
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2010 12:57
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:43

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