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It is widely believed that the social fabric is wearing out. Interpersonal relations are more and more detached and based on relationships that are often utilitarian and temporary. A new common thread that brings people together, unites them and offers them opportunities to talk, spend time together, and get to know each other, needs to be identified. Culture can be this common thread to be leveraged and turned into the glue that holds men and women, children and the elderly, Italians and immigrants together. Often regarded as being a privilege of the elite, culture can be revisited and put to use for the benefit of all. Gathering places can once again be filled with people sharing a variety of cultural activities and become the gateway to social inclusion and cohesion, a useful tool in the fight against marginalization and social distress.

The handbook titled “Destitute neighborhoods, culture and social inclusion” by Simona Bodo, Cristina Da Milano and Silvia Mascheroni presents a comprehensive analysis of the theoretical framework, of social inclusion and exclusion as well as of the barriers preventing people from gaining access to, participating and being represented in the cultural sphere. The handbook includes an overview of the policies that have been produced in the last ten years in an effort to respond to the problems of social and cultural exclusion (broadened access to culture, social and economic development, cultural inclusion).

What kind of places could favor this process? Libraries could well serve the purpose as well as all the places where children and adults used to gather. Theaters and museums could be ideal places as well.

The handbook ends with a number of recommendations for a fresh approach Fondazione Cariplo could implement to tackle the issue. The overall objective of the recommendations is to encourage local cultural institutions to take actions that promote social inclusion not just by broadening access to culture but also by fostering innovative forms of cultural participation, production and expression.  

Osservatorio's Handbook.
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