Collective identity inside and out

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Birindelli , P 2019 , ' Collective identity inside and out : Particularism through the looking glass ' , European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology , vol. 6 , no. 2 , pp. 237-270 .

Title: Collective identity inside and out;
Particularism through the looking glass
Author: Birindelli, Pierluca
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Academic Disciplines of the Faculty of Social Sciences
Date: 2019
Number of pages: 34
Belongs to series: European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology
ISSN: 2325-4823
Abstract: This article analyses literary sources that have influenced interpretations of the Italian collective identity, focusing on the conceptual pairing ‘familism-particularism’. In 1958 Edward Banfield coined the term ‘amoral familism’, generating an intense, persistent debate among Italian and foreign scholars. However, by expanding the analytical focus, similar explanations for Italian social, economic and political ‘backwardness’ can be traced much further back: to Alberti’s ‘land of self-interest’ or Guicciardini’s particulare. Representations of the cultural absence of civicness in Italy developed over the centuries, stemming initially from Italians’ own recognition of their self-image. It was only later, through the diaries of travellers on the Grand Tour, that this image was incorporated into the hetero-recognition of Italians by Northern Europeans and North Americans. When an identity feature maintains this ‘dual recognition’ for such a long historical period, it becomes a recurrent cardinal point in individual and collective representation of a people. Attempts to sustain theories conflicting with Banfield’s are confronted by other obstacles: the absence of comparable ethnographic studies translated into English and the rhetorical force of the expression ‘amoral familism’. The symbolic power of Banfield’s interpretation, which might be considered a stereotype, goes beyond its (in)ability to reflect social reality.
Subject: 5141 Sociology
collective identity
5143 Social and cultural anthropology
6122 Literature studies

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