Razvan Nicolescu

Razvan Nicolescu

Latest Italy blog post

What does social media tell us about sociality in Grano?

Mon, 15 Feb 2016 12:54:10 +0000

So, what does the ethnography of social media use in southeast Italy┬átells us? In my forthcoming book I argue that people use social media to craft themselves and carry out ideal behaviours that are otherwise expressed through conventional institutions and practices. In particular, Facebook is responsible for┬áthe public nature of social relations and WhatsApp for […]


Italy field site

Italy streetview

The Italy fieldsite is situated in the region of Puglia. With 20,000 inhabitants it is one of the almost 100 communes in the province of Lecce. The administrative unit is composed of the city centre and another few small settlings called frazioni. These are either bundled around the city centre, or are situated as far as a few kilometres away from it. I think that most of my ethnography will take place in the city centre, which is also the main commercial and administrative centre in the area. At the same time, the active population tends to be highly mobile, many own a second house in the region and almost 70% of the households own at least two cars.

As with most of the settlings in the region, the site I will be conducting ethnographic work was ruled by different powerful barons until the abolition of feudal laws at the beginning of the 19th century. However, most of the local population remained landless and with relatively little autonomy from the ruling classes until well into the 20th century. The Italian economic prosperity after the Second Wold War was translated locally into massive work migration to the prosperous regions in the North or to Switzerland. Starting with 1980s the region knew around two decades of relative prosperity because of important investements in light industry, especially textile.

Nowadays, the town looks relatively properous, and sometimes even quite affluent. I think that in a way, it is a smaller reflection of the Italian society. It is neither too affluent, nor too impoverished, with massive unprecedented unemployment and a relative tendency of young population to migrate for work. At the same time, the local population is part of a complex system of relations that were described in the literature on the south of Italy or the Mediterannean space. From this point of view, it is very interesting how people use communication media and the diverse opportunities offered by social media in relation to the very traditional network of personal relations. I think that by exploring the tensions between different innovative ways to practice and represent personal relations because of new technology, we could understand how people actually view their own society. The aim would then be to describe how the local population engage with the different available models of society and how this works in the quite strong traditional setting.

European Research CouncilEuropean UnionUCL Department of Anthropology

Grant number: ERC Project 2011-AdG-295486 SocNet
Project title: Social Network Sites and Social Science