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Autonomia and the political: an Italian cycle of contention, 1972–1979

Edwards, Philip (2006) Autonomia and the political: an Italian cycle of contention, 1972–1979. Modern Italy, 11 (3). pp. 267-283. ISSN 1353-2944


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Sidney Tarrow has identified a ‘cycle of contention’ taking place in Italy between 1966 and 1972; Tarrow characterises the left-wing terrorism of the late 1970s as an after-effect of this cycle. However, there was a second cycle of contention between 1972 and 1979, incorporating the left-wing ‘armed struggle’ milieu alongside a group of related mass movements (notably the ‘area of Autonomia’, the ‘movement of 1977’ and the ‘proletarian youth movement’). The second cycle, unlike the first, was met with repression, and with the exclusion of its ideological and tactical innovations from the political mainstream. The difference between the two cycles relates to the role played by the Italian Communist Party, which functioned as a ‘gatekeeper’ in each case; the party's engagement with the first cycle can be characterised as inclusive, while its engagement with the second cycle was unremittingly exclusive.

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