Italy

Heading Back South

Heading back home to southern Italy and the phenomenon of ‘south working’

Covid-19 and the consequent lockdown in Italy led to a counter-migration to the south. According to the Association for the Development of Industry in the Mezzogiorno, the phenomenon, which saw students and workers rush back to their home cities, involved more than one hundred thousand people. Most of these were youngsters who, where possible, continued their work or studies in the homes they had grown up in. Others found new jobs and began working for new companies.

The phenomenon was even identified by the Treccani dictionary that picked up on the term “south working”, defining it as “working remotely or from home in southern Italy for companies located in the north of the country.” South working is slowly repopulating the towns and villages of the south and is offering alternative job opportunities to the youth of the Mezzogiorno but, as sociologist Domenico De Masi explains, “it is a form of paid employment that is goal-oriented, without time constraints or spatial requirements and therefore necessitates modifications and updates to the current regulations.”

Is this just a temporary phenomenon or the beginning of a process that is decentralizing the big cities in favour of small towns and evening out the balance between the north and the south? These images show some of the stories of those who returned to the city of Caserta at the beginning of the lockdown: their faces, their childhood bedrooms, their pets and their day-to-day lives.