IDENTITIES ON THE BORDER. THE MAZARA DEL VALLO CASE
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Identity is a key term in the vernacular idiom of contemporary public debate. The greatest risk that this concept incurs is that it becomes an explanatory principle, which - exhausting its heuristic capability - transforms into a dangerous, ideologically oriented, and fruitless 'taken for granted' perspective. A possible way out, which is the one suggested in this contribution, imposes the analytic necessity to 'deconstruct' identity in a core of more verifiable analytical categories. While maintaining an inescapable link with the term's original conceptualisation, the analitycal categories offered in the paper may outline its elements, thus making its operative translation easier and less 'magmatic'. Bearing in mind these premises, the aim of this paper is a) to rebuild the theoretic background that gave rise to the research on immigrants' identification processes in the intercultural context of their host countries; b) to present the essential ecological elements of the empiric context of reference; c) to briefly show the results (and the empirical toolbox) of a fieldwork in Mazara del Vallo (a border city in the southwestern extremity of Sicily). While very far from solving the debate, this contribution deals with the so called 'hystérie identitaire' and addresses a problem that is central for the sociological approach: that of avoiding in scientific debate of the problematic constraints of identity shifts implying a particular form of 'social philosophy'.
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