Observing governance from the ‘street level’ An investigation on First Access services in Bologna, Emilia Romagna, Italy

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This contribution aims at addressing how institutional changes might affect the spatial configurations of services in cities. Grounding on the territorial and multilevel features of governance in urban planning and social policy fields, the analysis focuses on the provision of specific services in a selected Italian context. Starting from the assumption that space is a product of policy decisions and instruments, the paper would consider three spatial dimensions of social assistance services: the localization (where services are located in the city), the container (in which building they are located and which functions are coexisting), the content (how spaces influence the services provision). Underrepresented in the academic debate, poorly financed among the social protection measures, rarely considered from a spatial perspective, social assistance services will be analysed for their fundamental role in local welfare provision. In particular, the contribution will focus on first access services, representative of the street-level meeting between citizens and welfare policies. Starting from an empirical research led in the Social Counters (i.e. Sportelli Sociali) of the city of Bologna - Emilia Romagna, the paper will furtherly address space-related issues of social services provision, that might reshape the contact between citizens and institutions and reorient policy decisions.
welfare, spaces, social services, first access services