Absolute beginners of the “Belpaese.” Italian youth culture and the Communist Party in the years of the economic boom

Perfetti, Guglielmo (2018) Absolute beginners of the “Belpaese.” Italian youth culture and the Communist Party in the years of the economic boom. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This study has the aim of exploring aspects of youth culture in Italy during the economic boom of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Its theoretical framework lies between the studies around Italian youth culture and those around the Italian Communist Party (PCI), investigating the relationship between young people and contemporary society and examining, for the first time, the relationship of the former with the PCI, its institutions and media organs.
The arrival of an Anglo-American influenced pop culture (culture transmitted by the media and targeted at young people) and of its market, shaped the individualities of part of the pre-baby boomers that, finally, were able to create bespoke identities somewhat disconnected from the traditional party-related narrative while remaining on the left of the political spectrum. Pop symbols that blossomed in the late 1950s, such as the striped t-shirt, would characterise the style of young protesters who included them in their collective imagination from the early 1960s onwards.
Simultaneously, a flourishing pop market gave space to other cultural experiences including Cantacronache, a group of young musicians based in Turin who vividly depicted Italy of the boom through their lyrics. Their efforts can be read as belonging to a pop market that finally starts to open up towards new musical stimuli. They aimed to make their music available beyond the circle of left-wing activism as well and they were produced by a label linked to the PCI that in those years was reshaping its approach towards society, getting rid of its radical fringes and opening to a dialogue with diverse strata of the public, including young people, women and non-members.
The thesis investigates how the Communists and its Youth Federation (FGCI), reacted to the development of youth culture as an aspect of modernisation in general. Through an examination of the party’s approach to the youth revolts of the early 1960s and of its formal documents targeted at young people in general, we analyse how – and how successfully – the Communists tried to engage with young people while often, internal strands, the monolithic nature of the party and other elements, posed severe obstacles in meeting their demands, creating a fracture that would grow in the following years. The thesis also investigates how the party’s attempt to address young people was translated into the promotion of magazines in which serious political topics were discussed alongside other themes such as investigations into society and into the “questione giovanile.” In this respect, we will see how the FGCI journal Nuova generazione tried, in the late 1950s, to take account of youth inclinations paying attention to other important topics such as the emancipation of young women. The generation we look at is the first to claim the right to build its individual identities by drawing on pop culture and modernisation, developing codes and behaviours that pulled away from those set by the institutions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: PCI, FGCI, Italian Communist Party, Nuova generazione, Vie nuove, 1950s Italy, 1960s Italy, Italian youth cultures, Cantacronache, pop culture, questione giovanile, emancipation, Italian history, Italian sociology, cultural studies.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DG Italy
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Italian
Supervisor's Name: Morris, Dr. Penelope and O'Ceallachain, Dr. Eanna
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Guglielmo Perfetti
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-9132
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2018 14:59
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2018 07:51
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/9132

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