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From the beginning of the 1980s, several edited volumes have been published on poverty in Italy. Much of this literature only appeared in Italian (see, e.g., Garonna, 1984; Guidicini & Pieretti, 1993; Negri, 1990; Palumbo, 1993; Sarpellon, 1982). Only some are available for the international market (e.g., Sarpellon, 1984). In this literature, poverty - especially new forms of poverty - are generally seen as a distinctive feature of the city. Deindustrialization and tertiarization of the urban economic base and trends in the real estate market are often pointed out as the main causes of (increasing) poverty. Some also talk about selective migration processes; Indovina (1990, pp. 21-22), for example, states that the basic process of increasing poverty is that the conditions of urban life drive specific social strata out of the city. There is a strongly selective emigration (the middle-class sections of the population), but the demand for work in all its complex details brings equally selective sections of (lower and higher class) population into the city. In this context, there are also the far from negligible clandestine immigration of labor from developing countries and complex forms of spatial distribution of marginalization. The city has become the place of growing inequality.
The existence of thrusts to a growing social polarization at the urban scale in Italy is often deduced by studies referring to the situation in the United States. They are generally not supported by accurate empirical studies. The considerable differences between the ongoing phenomena in the United States and those affecting Italy are neglected. But these are important differences because Italy, in particular, is characterized by a number of specific features, making it different in many aspects, for better or worse, even from other large European countries.
In this article, I will use statistical data - provided by the 1991 census - to find out the extent and character of spatial differences within Italian cities. I have in mind two hypotheses: (a) Social inequality problems in Italy continue to be tied to the macroterritorial imbalance (north-south), and (b) trends to deindustrialization/tertiarization of the cities have had serious consequences in terms of social hardship, not only in those southern cities that have benefited in the past from industrialization processes but also in a very specific type of industrial cities characterized by the dominance of heavy industries and one or a few (public or private) enterprises.
URBANIZATION AND TERTIARIZATION IN ITALY: RECENT TRENDS
The urbanization processes in Italy (during the 1950s and the 1960s) did not fit in with the traditional models of urbanization associated with industrialization. Some specific features always emerged (see Becchi Collida, 1979, 1983, 1984; Collida, Fano, & D'Ambrosio, 1968). A number of elements were too deep-rooted to be eliminated by modernization: preexisting historical structures, the rich central and northern preindustrial urban tradition, the consequences of the contradictory implementation of national unity (unification between north and south was done in 1861; from that time, the questione meridionale stayed as a major political and social problem), and the permanent strong imbalances in the socioeconomic conditions of the various regions. In fact, modernization contributed to developing and orienting these elements further.
Urbanization began to slow down during the 1970s (although less in the south), as industrial expansion began to burn out. The Italian urban system experienced deindustrialization and tertiarization phenomena in its economic base. This affected mainly major cities, bringing about a slowdown of the growth rate or even a fall in their resident population. But these were not uniform phenomena in the whole country. As it was pointed out, the forms they took were affected by Italy's position in the global context and reflect its domestic imbalances. According to Dematteis (1983), Italy occupies an intermediate position between the most advanced tendencies to urban deconcentration in the most industrialized Western countries and the concentrated urban growth still prevalent in the Mediterranean area.
From the 1970s onwards, suburbanization led to the creation of a number of large urbanized areas: a huge area to the north of the river Po, the Via Emilia axis, an Adriatic coastal belt as far as Taranto in the south, the area around Rome continuing down the coastal belt to Gaeta, Naples and Salerno, and the Sicilian and Sardinian coasts. Thus, large tertiary-industrial-tourist areas were consolidated, although the incidence of industry and …