CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

Italian Civil Society: Facing new challenges

Posted by civilsocietyindex on April 4, 2011

Compared to the past edition of CSI, the value of the perception of impact is lower and the value of the level of organisation dimension (which in the previous methodology was called structure) is higher. Since civil society in Italy has not changed in the last four years, we think that this difference is due to the difference in the methodology for collecting information in the two iterations: the first edition was mainly a collection of secondary data to which a group of experts gave an assessment, whilst in this edition such information mainly came from the opinions of a sample of CSOs. The results are in line with typical witnessed attitudes of Italian CSOs, which tend to over-estimate what they do internally and under- estimate the impact of their actions. This is a behaviour that also emerged during the past edition of the research.

According to the results of this second edition, civil society in Italy is confirmed to be a mature and solid phenomenon.  The weakness points that require the utmost attention, as they emerged from the research, seem to be the ability to influence the attitudes and values of Italian society in general; the inclusion and management of diversity; the attention to immigrants and their need to practice citizenship into civil society organizations; the commitment to emerging problems in Italy, such as social mobility and the rule of law, the increase of international links needed to face globalization effects; and, of course, the enhancement of the political impact, which the research confirmed to be inversely proportional to the social impact.

Civil society in Italy is a mature and solid phenomenon, a permanent actor of the social, cultural, economic and political life of the country. Moreover it’s a phenomenon that enjoys of a favourable contest for its development. The values registered in each dimension are quite high and this evidence shows that Italian civil society has all the resources needed to solve the weaknesses highlighted in this research.

It’s interesting to reflect on the fact that comparing the internal and the external representation of civil society, it seems that CSOs tend to describe themselves as having in mind a model of political correctness (i.e. presence of code of conduct, collaboration with other organisations, democratic decision making process and so on) that is exactly what their observers and their interlocutors expect from them. The paradox is that external representation, coming from the opinion of the sample involved in the External perception survey and from the Advisory Committee, seems to be more adherent to the reality of the phenomenon. Again, as was the case in the first edition of the project, a sort of inferiority complex on the part of CSOs emerges here that is the cause of the over-estimation of the formal aspect of the phenomenon and the under-estimating of the impact on Italian society

The CSI was implemented in Italy  by Cittinanza Attiva (Active Citizenship) and the Active Citizen Foundation (FONDACA)

To read the full report, click here

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