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Giovanni Pieretti

Full Professor

Department of Sociology and Business Law

Academic discipline: SPS/10 Urban and Environmental Sociology


Keywords: urban sprawl extreme urban poverty follow-up on drug addicts culture of essential

My recent studies focus on emerging periurban forms, with particular attention to urban sprawl and città diffusa; not only architectural and urban transformations are considered, but also social, anthropological and economic implications.

More and more authors are focusing on città diffusa, città diramata, periurban areas, edge cities, and all the new settlements which are emerging. Traditional city seems to lose its appeal in most of Northern Europe and North America. For example, in the 1990 US Census the number of residents in urban areas was lower than the number in periurban areas: in some way, such data illustrate an historical change, reversing a well-established trend. In Italy, a city like Bologna began to lose (resident) population from 1973. The change we are talking about is the urban sprawl; it is an historic phenomenon, and today more than 50% of world population live in the cities, and the 60% of them live in sprawl areas. So, periurban context is a huge “box” with many different settlements and populations; we are interested in understanding why people and families who live in the cities decide to abandon them and go to live in places/non-places, where identity and territorial belonging are difficult to find.


Another key-topic of my studies and research is the culture of essential in urban context, that means to say the persistence of culture of rural origin in the city through some subordinate social groups.

The culture of essential represents the persistence of a culture of rural origin in the city through some subordinate social groups. In the city today there are people who live in poverty, but they have a different perception from the services which work on poverty, and they do no think to need help; such people "belong" to culture of essential, which survives between consumerism and the dominant culture of surplus. Home, work, food and health are the key-elements of this culture; our territorial research show that it survives on urban territory, despite its defetas and its lack of self-consciousness. People with this culture do not have expectations about consumption; at the same time, they are "repaired" against the fall to extreme poverty condition. Empirical research individuated the presence of culture of essential in some urban areas, both in the core and in the outskirts; such areas do not have the "light relationality" and selective social pressures which characterize metropolitan systems.


Social marginalization in urban context, considered through several methodological approaches, with particular attention to extreme poverty and drug addiction.

As regards to marginalization and poverty in urban context today, it is more and more difficult both speaking about it both in general and focusing on a particular area. We could forget or underestimate some situations which are serious but difficult to detect, but we also could include in the poverty people or groups who are not to include. On the other side, such risks have to be faced in order to consider poverty as something more than a statistical matter, just defined and verified through a calculation about rents and consumption. Our studies individuate a connection between poverty and adult social disease, and such connection is studied through an approach related to Chicago School, with participant observation and attention to individual life trajectories on the territory; moreover, drug addiction is individuated as a relevant problem of social marginalization in urban areas. Our follow-up studies stress the link between people and their territory; such link concerns both their context of origin and the context where they are reintegrated after a community rehabilitation period.