Post-welfare state vulnerable communities and self-produced services in public housing units: the case of Lotto Zero in Ponticelli (Naples)

PhD student: Marilena Prisco

Tutor: Prof. Laura Lieto


Università degli studi di Napoli “Federico II”


The research project focuses on self-produced services as a frame to investigate how publicness is created in one of the 1980s’ post-earthquake public housing complexes of the periphery of Naples (Italy). It is part of the international research network Public Space in European Social Housing (PUSH – “Hera” Joint Research Program financed by the EU) that aims at analysing the concept of public space in a socio-material perspective in selected cases located in Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and Italy. Differences between north European and south European countries are central in the PUSH project and the Italian case of Ponticelli (Naples) represents an emblematic case of both “South Europe” and “South Italy”.


The Lotto Zero is characterised by a high rate of unemployment and crime, of multi problematic families and of school dropout. Building on academic international studies on multiscale processes in phenomena of social marginalisation, this study aims to investigate inequalities of service provisioning in a marginalised residential context. It focuses particularly on the evolution of identity among young people (gender identity and social identity) and the emerging of new forms of vulnerabilities. It has to be considered that the European Union recently reaffirmed its interest in both a better understanding of the evolution of vulnerabilities (linked to new types of families, the increase of child poverty and the increase of social exclusion) and in the provision of services to prevent social vulnerability (preventive welfare instead of reparatory welfare).


This study starts from two hypotheses. First that vulnerability and identity are interlinked and, as a consequence, that identity formation and evolution could prove useful in defining emerging forms of vulnerability. Second that the retreat of the public welfare state resulted in service provision involving citizens that participate in informal practices creating what we could call “self-provided services”. According to the collected data, those services neither entirely exclude traditional public actors (institutions and NGOs) nor are they completely illegal. They develop in a “grey zone” where institutional actions and informal activities interplay and create specific forms of publicness.


The public archival data will be integrated next year with fieldwork through participant observation and interviews. Furthermore the project encompasses activities with local institutional actors, NGOs and target groups with the aim to develop descriptions of self-provisioning in services using experimental digital tools. Cooperative digital representation and storytelling will be tested as tools for analysing different types of services, for increasing awareness about coping with processes of marginalisation and for supporting empowerment of vulnerable groups.