Joint research project

SOCIAL ORGANIZATION SYSTEM NETWORK. Transformations of the institutions and social practices of healthcare and assistance in medieval, modern and contemporary Europe. Southern Italy and Romania

Project leaders
Raffaella Salvemini, Ileana Cazan
ROMANIA - RA - The Romanian Academy
CNR-RA 2017-2019
Social sciences and humanities, cultural heritage
Thematic area
Social sciences and humanities, cultural heritage
Status of the project

Research proposal

The project "SOCIAL ORGANIZATION SYSTEM NETWORK (SOS-Net) Transformations of the institutions and social practices of healthcare and
assistance in medieval, modern and contemporary Europe. The case- studies Southern Italy and Romania",jointly proposed by Institute of
Studies on the Mediterranean Societies-Naples, Italy and the Institutul de Istorie "Nicolae Iorga", Bucarest, Romania, is based on a comparison of social practices between past and present.
The main idea on which the project is based is that the pillars of the contemporary 'welfare state' were built in the late medieval age, when a number of networks and practices of hospitality, care and health, arising spontaneously from the social fabric, began to gradually be institutionalized. In this sense, the idea of 'common good' as an element of identity and social cohesion, as well as the ethics of civic responsibility, implicit in the rulers of the time, often deeply imbued with religious fervor, allowed the communities most in need, as the poor, the beggars, the sick, the widows, the impoverished, abandoned children, the marginalized had a chance to survive in a society that tended to exclude those who were not able to make a productive contribution to the community to which they belonged. The principal objective of the project is to investigate the roots of medieval and early modern culture of health, assistance and hospitality, starting from the study of the origins, contexts and processes of transformation of institutions and social practices for the care of the body and spirit with a particular focus on the South of Italy, which, since the Middle Ages, is presented as a unique model. Therefore, through the analysis of the social fabric that generated those practices and institutions and through the comparative study of a model network strategically developed not only in the continental, insular and Mediterranean Europe, but also in geographical areas far from the Mediterranean, such as Romania, the project will help unravel the meanings and interpretations of the concept of 'well-being of the community', which is an asset for Europe and its inalienable aspirations.
From this general approach, and from a reading of the sources leading to a critical dialogue between past and present, this project aims to reveal the legacy of structures of social action that identify us. A heritage that also reveals itself - in the current crisis and in the framework of a clear disconnect between the social fabric and the institutions - as an element of great value in the reconstruction of networks of collective solidarity, social cohesion, integration and common good. Specifically, it binds to the concept of social innovation: the definition developed by the Young Foundation and promoted by the European Commission in the Strategic Framework 2020, identifies social innovation as a strategic element for economic growth, social development and empowerment of citizens. In particular, they assume two criteria to identify social innovation: the social purpose and the prevailing action of non-profit organizations to improve the capacity of action of individuals and disadvantaged groups. In this framework, the social security system as well as access to medical care, is an instrument of essential inclusion, since it offers an "effective protection" against risks such as unemployment, accidents at work, sickness and "disability". Each EU Member State, by virtue of its history and the different national contexts, has developed its own social security system.
Therefore, the second part of this project, focalized on "The access of Romanian immigrants to Social Security and Health in Italy: policies and practice" aiming to identify the "place" of the foreign population of Romanian origin in the framework of the implementation of these measures, with a view to developing, on the basis of the studies done in the first part, any policy guidelines oriented to '" social innovation".

Research goals

Keeping firm this conviction and perspective, that of a past that is reflected in the present, the project will deal with a number of practical challenges that can be summarized in 3 specific objectives, taking into account the comparison between different geopolitical realities.
1) Census documents and assets, material and immaterial, of the medieval and early modern institutions and practices of care and hospitality. To know, to document and to place in space and time these institutions and practices are a necessary condition to be able to reflect on their meaning in the past and their projection in the present and to analyze, based on a mapping of hospital care, the social, political, economic and cultural 'landscape', composed of tangible and intangible elements, which, in their diversity, are defined with common traits in rural and urban areas and in different regions of Europe, and in different geographic areas, like southern Italy and Romania.
2) Stimulating specific research, at all levels and academic degrees, on these institutions and care practices, on the relations between them and the issues of urban and rural poverty, and on medieval and early modern society, economics, anthropology; studies and research that can be part of the scientific and comparative European debate.
3) Promote publications in this field, transmitting scientific results through individual and collective monographs and articles in professional journals (Open Access).

Last update: 07/10/2022