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Opportunity Structures for Citizens’ Participation in Italian Regions: A Case Study

The Italian process of decentralization is opening new opportunities for action in the matter of political participation for Italian regions. Starting from the analysis of a regional case study (Emilia-Romagna), the paper tries to explain how a single region could elaborate a set of policy-oriented instruments to direct citizens’ political participation and mobilize them on specific issues beyond the classic electoral channel. After the presentation of the selected case, the paper will analyze the concept of opportunity structures for citizens’ participation and the way in which it can be applied in the study of Italian regions. The analysis of the EmiliaRomagna regional policy in the matter of participation shows that the regional choices are more and more following a path-dependent scheme strictly related to the cultural and institutional variables of the regional framework and its classic interventionist policy style.