Bocconi University, Italy
Political Disaffection in Europe’s Rust Belt Regions
The aim of this project is to understand how a sustained decline in manufacturing has altered democratic life in affected societies. The central question of the project is: How has regional and local deindustrialization brought about a disenchantment with mainstream politics? The project focuses on two possible mechanisms through which deindustrialization produces a climate of political disaffection in a society which are based on opposing (but not mutually exclusive) theoretical traditions. The first mechanism is grounded in institutional theory and sees the origins of political disaffection as a rational process that is politically endogenous. The other possible mechanism is through “bottom-up” gradual cultural change that is exogenous to political institutions. According to this reasoning, deindustrialization may transform social relations, which is widely considered a necessary ingredient for democratic and civic life.This project offers theoretical insights into how, over time, deindustrialization has reshaped the relationship citizens have with national politics.