This work describes the role of the district councillors of Naples, through an analysis of their relational networks. District councils are the result of the administrative decentralization of the major Italian municipalities. During a 2 year field research study, I gathered 387 semi-structured interviews with the councillors and 35 unstructured interviews with a set of key informants. In order to increase the understanding of the political networks, I have also collected information through direct observation of the councillors meetings and activities. The analysis combines qualitative and quantitative data. At a formal level, district councillors don’t have any actual power, but, in practice, they gain important social capital resources by playing a brokerage role between political patrons and their potential clients. I provide evidence that, on one side, they hold strong ties with the higher level politicians; and, on the other side, they play a fundamental role in taking care of the voters and collecting the electoral consensus. In conclusion, I argue that the district councillors of Naples perform the tasks which were previously carried out by the traditional party organizations, assuming the role of the “new” professionals of grass roots politics.
Quality & Quantity – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 25, 2011
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