Gender Relations among Italian Americans

Carol Bonomo Jennngs and Christine Palamidessi Moore

in American Woman, Italian Style

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780823231751
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241286 | DOI:
Gender Relations among Italian Americans

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This chapter attempts to convey some of the thickly textured patterns of Italian-American gender relations. Edward C. Banfield put forth the theory of the southern Italian social system as an egregious example of “amoral familism.” This theory is still widely used by social scientists and other writers in influential intellectual circles. Banfield's view that people in southern Italy had no community or social moralities, only loyalty to their nuclear families' short term interests, is often cited or quoted. The patriarchal and amoral familism theories of the Italian-American family are well entrenched, not only among scholars, but also among oldstyle nativists and others who still speak of the Italian immigrants' “less than ideal cultural baggage,” which caused and still causes problems for a morally superior American culture.

Keywords: gender relations; Italian Americans; amoral familism; Edward C. Banfield; southern Italy; American culture; nuclear families; patriarchal

Chapter.  4639 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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