“When a breach arises”: Good burocratic action and informal scrap metal collection in Northern Italy

  • Elisabeth Tauber Libera Università di Bolzano, Italy


This paper analyses affirmative bureaucratic intervention into the informal commercial practices of scrap metal collection among the Sinti in a North-Italian province. To contextualize these events it is vital to examine institutional logics, and how they resonate with public officials’ sense of self as well as political loyalties. In everyday bureaucracy Gypsies are considered to be perplexing subjects, provoking contrasting images of poverty and excess. These cultural representations are the opposite of the idea of a decent social-work client. Hence, bureaucratic intervention on behalf of the Sinti put the former in a deontological and moral limbo, one which stimulates them to navigate the political and organisational structures of their organisations in a creative way. This paper aims to bring a positive example of where the social and institutional discrimination against Roma and Sinti in Italy and Europe can be broken. Even if it is not possible to reverse this discrimination, it at least introduces affirmative bureaucratic action as an enlightening direction for anthropological study.

How to Cite
Tauber, E. (2017) “‘When a breach arises’: Good burocratic action and informal scrap metal collection in Northern Italy”, Anuac, 6(2), pp. 155-173. doi: 10.7340/anuac2239-625X-3084.