The Italian Society of Community Psychology

The Italian Society of Community Psychology (S.I.P.CO) is a cultural and scientific organization, founded in 1994, that promotes research and practices that apply community psychology principles in diverse settings and across disciplines.

Goals of the Society are the following:

  • to promote theory development and research in community psychology;
  • to promote the development and the use of community psychology methods, supporting training and encouraging community action research;
  • to advance knowledge and to promote exchange and collaboration with other National and International organizations that have common scientific interests;
  • to promote mutual exchange of knowledge among academics and professionals, also from different disciplines; to bring community psychology to institutions and civil society


S.I.P.CO brings together academic community psychologists, practitioners and community stakeholders. The Society organizes  biennial conferences that are a great opportunity to discuss about community research and action and to take advantages of the strengths of the different perspectives of its members. Each conference has a “core theme”,  that sets the priorities to be discussed  during the conference. In September (27th -29th ) 2012 the 9th  Conference will be organised in Milan The core theme is “Promoting social links, activating participation and supporting social change”. Invited speakers are: Maritza Montero (Venezuela) and  William Doherty (USA). Previous conferences have taken place in Torino (2010), Firenze (2008),  Lecce (2006), Palermo (2004) and Torino (2002). About 200 people usually attend our Conferences.
Regular members are  actually about 75, 25 of which are “Junior members”. A significant portion of S.I.P.CO members are engaged in promoting and applying community psychology principles outside academia: they propose projects to local authorities, municipalities, health services, schools and volunteers organizations.

S.I.P.CO, besides the biennial conference, supports the organization of thematic workshops and trainings carried out in collaboration with other associations.  In 2012 S.I.P.CO has sponsored two important workshops on Qualitative Methods in Community Psychology Research. The first one on “ Qualitative Community Research” was organised by Caterina Arcidiacono  in Naples with Anne Brodsky (Maryland University,US) and combined didactic and practical presentations on individual and group applications. It started with a brief overview of the ontology, epistemology and methodology underlying qualitative research before exploring the criteria that are considered of crucial importance to research “soundness” (credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability). Another focus of interest was the researcher’s qualities and role in achieving soundness at all stages of the research process.
The second one took place in May 2012 at the University of Bologna, organised by Elvira Cicognani and led by: Christopher Sonn (Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia). He discussed on “Engaging Qualitative Research for Social Change” using the narrative materials collected thanks to The Apartheid Archive Project (AAP). After overviewing the epistemological, methodological and political considerations informing and emerging from the AA project, the storytelling method has been discussed highlighting some of its benefits and disadvantages. Participants were encouraged to consider how the theories and methods used in the project might be utilised in their own research projects on topics such as internal and external migration, inclusion and exclusion, participation and community making, racialization and resistance.
The great attention devoted to qualitative methods represents the effort that S.I.P.CO has made in order to answer to the training needs expressed by its junior members and to overcome some of the limits of many Italian PhD programs in psychology that still privilege a quantitative approach to research.
Previous events sponsored by S.I.P.CO dealt with migrations,  intercultural issues, action- research: they provided young researchers and more experienced scholars an opportunity to discuss intensively each specific theme, comparing methodologies, results, perspectives and procedures.

Other initiatives have been proposed to strengthen the visibility of local community psychology experiences promotes by S.I.P.CO members.   They usually took the form of open workshops, that allowed community members and local organizations to meet and discuss in small groups,  to “observe” the concrete products of community projects, or  to have an idea on how community psychologists deal with particular issues. In the last two years workshops were organized on the following topics: Media coverage of news on Camorra (with Gioacchino Lavanco, in Cesena); Promoting civic engagement through a mentoring program for school age children (with Raffaello Martini, in Cesena);  “Meet people in the main square”,  an event promoting community and proximal relationships at the local levels (with Raffaello Martini, in Lucca); “Promoting awareness of  architectural barriers” for disabled people (with Pietro Berti, in Cesena); Fair and sustainable well being in Umbria (with Caterina Arcidiacono and Carlo Volpi);  Communities that take care: a two day meeting, with workshops and a playback theatre performance (with Gaetano Martorano, Raffaello Martini and many others, in Pistoia. In Rome since 1990 there are Labs of intervention research on community profiling, Multidimensional organization analysis and empowering training led by Donata Francescato and her team.

The Italian Society of Community Psychology has adopted recently special policies to foster young psychologists’ career development: economic contributions have been granted to the junior members to attend International Conferences and Summer Schools; and this year a prize will be awarded for the best master degree thesis in Community Psychology.

Sipco publishes a scientific peer reviewed journal  and a periodical Newsletter.
The journal (“Psicologia di Comunità”) has two main goals: to document the empirical work of community psychologists and the evolution of the discipline in Italy and to stimulate discussion and debate on theory, research, and intervention in the field. On the following website tables of contents and abstracts ( in Italian and in English) of the published articles are available for free.
The Newsletter provides regular information on community psychology events that take place in Italy and in Europe, and on recent publications. Through the Newsletter young scholars have the opportunity to present their research proposals and to report their impressions on conferences and meetings they attended. The last numbers of the Newsletter are available and downloadable from Sipco web site.

Up to date information, resources and useful links can be found at the web site of the society On the web site it is possible to apply to become a member, to find information about the steering committee of the society.  Links to Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter are also available on the web site.

To get more information on the history of community psychology in Italy and its developments see:

Francescato, D., Arcidiacono, C., Albanesi, C., & Mannarini, A. T. (2007). Community psychology in Italy: Past developments and future perspectives. In S. M. Reich, M. Riemer, I. Prilleltensky & M. Montero (Eds.), International community psychology: History and theories (263-281). New York: Springer.

The special issue on Italian Community Psychology, in The Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community (Volume 38, Issue 1, January 2010)

Graduate and undergraduate courses in Community Psychology are available in most Italian Universities; the teams that contribute mostly to S.I.P.CO. activities are located at the University of Turin, Genoa, Milan, Padua, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples, Salento and Palermo. In many Universities there are also Laboratories on Community Psychology Research and Intervention: their websites provide some useful information about research priorities and intervention projects of each group:
Laboratorio di psicologia sociale e di comunità (University of Turin)
Link- Laboratorio per la ricerca ed il sostegno alla comunità (University of Padua),
LabPsac- Laboratorio di Psicologia Sociale, Applicata e di Comunità (University of Modena & Reggio Emilia)
LabPsiCom – Laboratorio di Psicologia di Comunità (University of Bologna)
INCOPARDE (University of Naples, Federico II)

The level of interest in the discipline in Italy is easily understandable also considering the amount of articles published by Italian scholars in the international community psychology journals; moreover many Community Psychology textbooks have been recently published or edited by Italian scholars. The following list is not exhaustive, it includes only those books that provide an overview of the discipline.
Amerio P. (2000), Psicologia di comunità, il Mulino, Bologna.
Prezza M., Santinello M. (a cura di) (2002) Conoscere la comunità. L'analisi degli ambienti di vita quotidiana, Il Mulino (Bologna).
Francescato D., Tomai M., Ghirelli G. (2002), Fondamenti di psicologia di comunità. Principi, strumenti, ambiti di applicazione, Carocci, Roma.
Martini E. R., Torti A. (2003), Fare lavoro di comunità. Riferimenti teorici e strumenti operativi, Carocci, Roma.
Santinello M., Dallago L., Vieno A. (2009) Fondamenti di psicologia di comunità, Il Mulino, Bologna.
Lavanco G., Novara C. (2012) Elementi di psicologia di comunità, McGraw Hill, Milano
Zani B. (a cura di) (2012), Psicologia di comunità. Prospettive, idee, metodi, Carocci, Roma

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