Socio-territorial local cohesion and development

The Working Group addresses the issues of social cohesion and local development

In a context characterised by a gradual withdrawal of the State in socio-economic development matters, a decrease in financial resources transfers from the national to lower government levels, and a growing deficit of political expertise we are witnessing an increase in social-economic-and territorial inequalities. The latter do not only reflect the traditional North-South divide and the distinction between urban/rural and centre/periphery areas.  They increasingly affect new functional areas, such as big urban and metropolitan regions as well as internal and coast localities. This assumption is supported by a number of national and international accounts on the socio-economic and territorial development of Western countries, in particular in relation to the changing values of traditional socio-economic indicators (e.g. production, employment, health, education, and demographic structure). Given this empirical evidence, it is urgent to call into question our understanding of social cohesion and development in relation to social groups and areas located in marginal and vulnerable territories and at risks of socio-territorial exclusion. This implies drawing attention to social inclusion and exclusion in contexts characterised by increasing inequalities.  In the light of this, the territory must be interpreted not as a mere policy area as it acquires a key role in explaining what the concept of local territorial development actually means and, as a consequence, in driving public policies.

The project aims at theoretically and empirically addressing social cohesion and local socio-territorial development by putting at the centre of the analysis the territory, which is in turn defined both as a contextual variable and as a set of resources for local development. 

In line with the overall objective of the Institute for Advanced Study of Social Change (IASSC) of the Department of Excellence of Sociology and Social Research ‘to develop new insights on the social and territorial transformation occurring in our country’, the Working Group’s objectives are the following:

  • To investigate the concepts of social cohesion and local socio-territorial development through the theoretical lenses provided by economic sociology, territorial sociology, and public policy analysis;

  • To update the literature on social cohesion and socio-economic development by introducing the concept of well-being which represents a cornerstone of the current debate on sustainable development (2030 UN Sustainable Development Objectives);

  • To empirically analyse the Milanese urban and metropolitan region through:

  • A secondary analysis of official national, regional, and local statistics (Benessere Equo e Sostenibile – BES) in order to build geo-referenced cohesion and sustainable socio-territorial indicators;

  • A primary analysis of the main variables of social cohesion and socio-territorial development;

  • An analysis of the main regional and local public policies for social cohesion and socio-territorial development.

  • To foster the dialogue with the main local and territorial authorities, in particular the Lombardy Region (in relation to the Protocollo Lombardo per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile), the Municipality of Milan (Progetto Milano 2046), and the Metropolitan City of Milan (within the Piano Strategico Triennale del Territorio Metropolitano);

  • To produce a scientific publication.


Project Manager: Matteo Colleoni.

Research Team: Alberta Argia Andreotti, Simone Caiello, Ida Castiglioni, Veronica Conte, Luca Daconto, Valentina Pacetti, Emanuele Maria Polizzi.