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The Young Christian Workers Movement and the radicalization of Social Conflict in Mediterranean Europe: France, Italy and Spain (1963-1978)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - WORK-CHRIST (The Young Christian Workers Movement and the radicalization of Social Conflict in Mediterranean Europe: France, Italy and Spain (1963-1978))

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2019-08-31

"The project ""The Young Christian Workers Movement and the radicalization of Social Conflict in Mediterranean Europe: France, Italy and Spain (1963-1978)"" (or Work-Christ project for short) focuses on the relationship between religion, politics and democratic participation in the countries of Mediterranean Europe, with particular attention paid to Italy, France and Spain. The principal purpose of this research is to assess the influence of religious radicalisation on political radicalisation, through the cases of the participation of Christian workers associations in the social conflict within the three nations taken into consideration. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), with its redefinition of relations between the Church and the contemporary world, impelled believers to take on a greater commitment in society, inviting them at the same time to support and strengthen democratic institutions. This resulted in a thrust towards a demand for greater social justice, widespread especially among the young, with its main source of inspiration being in religious tension. At European level this unrest met with the aspirations towards change of the working class, within which Christian associations, linked at transnational level, were extremely active: thus, a renewed religious identity stimulated new and radical forms of political participation as well as new and radical projects for social transformation from a democratic and European perspective."
During the project I conducted a broad multi-archival research in 18 archives, research centres and specialized libraries located in 6 European countries (Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Switzerland). I examined: A) Archives of the Gioventù cattolica italiana; Archives of the Comunità dell’Isolotto, Archives of the Catholic Trade Unions, Archives of the Gioventù italiana operaia Cristiana, in Italy; B) Archives of the International Cristian Trade Unions and the International Coordiantion of the Christian Worker Movement in Belgium; C) Archives of the National and International Braches of the Catholic Action Workers Associations in Spain, France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Portugal.
As a result of this research, I presented papers in 12 conferences and seminars. I wrote 2 book chapters and 1 journal article. In addition to this, I taught courses in my host institution and engaged in several networking and dissemination activities.
The collection of this vast array of sources has allowed me to provide the connections and interactions between the data collected and specific sector studies. The reconstruction of the “Young Christian Workers Movement”, in fact, has been conducted at national and transnational level, through a scrupulous archival research. The research in these documentation centres aimed at reconstructing: a) the relationships between the various Christian workers associations; b) their international coordination; c) their religious and political culture. The research done provided a fundamental contribution to the study of the link between religion and politics in Mediterranean and Romance-language Europe according to different lines of research: a) the impact of religious radicalisation within the social conflict in which the Christian workers’ associations were protagonists on a European scale; b) the role that these associations played in addressing the emergencies caused by the phenomena of internal migration and uncontrolled growth of industrial cities.
Within the European Community phenomena of religious radicalisation pose increasingly new challenges to the stability of democratic systems: Work-Christ wants to provide a contribution for building an inclusive European society through the analysis of a positive case study on the link between religion, conflict and democratic participation which can provide support for the definition of integration policies.