Studies of Urbanization and Migration in Advanced and Developing Countries
Edited by H. S. Geyer
Chapter 9: Counter-urbanization in Italy
P. Petsimeris INTRODUCTION As has already been documented, in the last three decades counterurbanization has become a dominant force shaping the settlement patterns in a number of countries on both sides of the Atlantic (Berry, 1976; Illeris, 1979; Fielding, 1982; Vining, 1989, Ceresa et al., 1983; and Champion, 1989). This process is characterised by decreasing urban size, falling population densities, and decreasing heterogeneity of urban forms and activity distribution within urban regions. This phenomenon has mainly affected the ‘mature’ urban systems of North America and Western Europe, while over the last twenty years the urban systems of other Less Developed Countries of Southern Europe have experienced changes that, in some respects, seem likely to lead to similar outcomes in the future. The aim of this chapter is to examine the process of urban deconcentration in Italy during the period 1951-2001. Our main hypothesis is that the Italian urban system is highly heterogeneous, and the processes of urban diffusion are for this reason very different in the various regions. A number of studies oversimplified the case of the Mediterranean countries, including Italy, by attributing to them the early stages of maturity of their urban systems. We will try to answer a series of simple questions: o Are the processes of counter-urbanization affecting the entire territory of the peninsula, or are there areas where the phenomenon is more intense? What is the temporality of this process? o What is the relationship between the deconcentration models of Berry (1976), Fielding (1982) and the...
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