From Working-Class to Immigrant Areas? The Case of Two Former Industrial Districts

Giacomo Solano


In this paper I consider the situation of two former industrial districts of Genoa – Cornigliano and Sestri Ponente – in order to problematize the substitution mechanism between blue-collar (working class) and white-collar (middle class) workers. As underlined in the literature on post-Fordism, with the end of Fordism there was a general shift in the population composition, with a strong decrease of the working class and an increase of the middle class. At the same time, studies on immigration in various neighborhoods show that in some cases these former industrial areas have become target areas of immigration. In my research I show that the switch from working class to middle class happened completely only in those areas which were successful in their transition into a post-industrial configuration (Sestri Ponente in my research). On the contrary, in the areas where deindustrialization led to degradation and unemployment (Cornigliano in my study), the process was very different: there is a drastic increase of people from all over the world, and, although the middle class did in fact increase, working-class people were largely replaced by immigrants in these areas. It is important to underline that some areas became middle-class districts while others largely became areas of immigration. In this sense, it is possible to speak of a different substitution process. The (partially) unsuccessful industrial transformation and the negative consequences of having had an industrial past seem to lead to a general degradation of some areas, therefore attracting immigrants because of their economic difficulties, and essentially “pushing out” the middle-class population (typically the children of blue-collar workers). In conclusion, I analyze various transition paths leading from an industrial to a post-industrial situation, in order to underline a process which is not clearly shown in the literature, i.e. the substitution mechanism from working class, blue-collar workers to immigrants, in those areas where coming out of the industrial era was problematic.

DOI: 10.5901/ajis.2013.v2n8p127

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Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies ISSN 2281 3993(Print) ISSN 2281-4612(Online)

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