Self-managed social centers in Italy

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Forte Prenestino, a social center in Rome, 2008

Self-managed social centers appeared all over Italy during the mid-1980s, as a result of the recession and resignation of 1970s left-wing militant students and youth that were dissatisfied with authority.

Young adults with no money, place to meet, or fondness of authority squatted abandoned buildings, renovated them, and turned them into social youth centers. These self-organized groups began to find new purpose in the centers, as if they were operational factories, schools, prisons, gas stations, or stores that they once were before abandonment. These refurbished buildings became semi-legal, unconventional, independently run activity centers.

The social centers were often located in the outer suburbs of larger cities and were run cooperatively by several groups that used the facilities as underground drop-in centers, youth clubs, drug rehabilitation sites, recording studios, cinemas, art galleries, and eventually even computer venues that specialized in computer hacking. As a retreat for disgruntled youth, the social center became a breeding ground for Italian political music. Today, they are considered the heart of Italian hip hop.