Macro-Regions, Local Systems, and Cities: The Conceptualisation of Territory in Italy Since 1950

Italian Journal of Regional Science, No. 3, 2009

16 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2005 Last revised: 15 Feb 2015

Date Written: May 4, 2011

Abstract

The paper argues that the way in which social scientists and policy-makers have conceptualised the Italian territory has significantly changed since the 1950s as a consequence of methodological shifts and attempts to capture the changing territorial organisation of the economy. In retrospect, one can discern a conceptual trajectory from the classic 'Northern Italy'/'Southern Italy' partition to interpretation of the territory as a pattern of local systems. But, as the paper suggests, the concept of 'local system', if correctly interpreted, has finally led to rediscover of cities as the fundamental elements of the territorial organisation of the economic process in Italy.

If the economic importance of cities is not acknowledged, it is difficult to understand the pattern of regional development in Italy in recent decades. It is also questionable whether effective regional and national development policies can be devised. A critical-historical analysis of the conceptualisation of the Italian territory since the 1950s, highlighting the conceptual barriers which have impeded appreciation of the role of cities, may prove functional to theoretical and policies advances in the field of local economic development.

Keywords: Territory, cities, local development, Italy

JEL Classification: R10, R11, O12, O18

Suggested Citation

Calafati, Antonio, Macro-Regions, Local Systems, and Cities: The Conceptualisation of Territory in Italy Since 1950 (May 4, 2011). Italian Journal of Regional Science, No. 3, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=760126
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