When we think of Italian society and culture, we often think of a people with strong tradition, pride and family values; but with the ever changing social climate, does modern Italy still share these almost 'stereotypical' attributes?
The importance of the family unit to Italians
Italians have always been known for their family loyalty, and the family-unit is very much still the core of society. This means that Italians often grow up with a sense of responsibility, respect for elders, and loyalty to their family; all of which are very positive attributes. In a survey by CENSIS (the Center for Social Investment Studies), 65.4% of Italians identified a 'sense of family' as their number one fundamental value.
One negative side to this is perhaps seen in the way Italian society has lagged behind its European counterparts in developing a strong youth workforce. Many young Italians who have grown up in a secure family environment have little incentive to become financially independent. Furthermore, there is less incentive to develop employable skills in Italy because there is a 'culture' of employing one's own family members, regardless of whether they are qualified for the position or not. Through this, the cementing of the family structure- a fundamentally positive thing- has led to a generation of over-indulged children who never grow up and are still living at home at the age of thirty.
Religion's place in Italian society
Another aspect of life that Italians indicated as being close to their heart is religion. Given that Italy is the home of Catholicism worldwide, it is no surprise that 21% of Italians view their religion as the most important aspect of their life. What is perhaps more surprising, is that a quick analysis of statistics regarding religion in Italy shows that whilst 45.1% of Italians described themselves as followers of an 'organized religion' in the 1980s, a more recent report shows that the figure has now grown to 65.6% - effectively bucking all comparative trends in other European countries.
Italy: A country of people who appreciate life
One final value that Italians hold in high regard is what the CENSIS survey labelled the 'love for the beautiful'. The definition for this 'appreciation' varied from living in a aesthetically-pleasing surrounding, through to simply enjoying food, drink and good company. The 'joie de vivre' approach of Italian lifestyle has been well-documented in both film and literature, and has become intrinsic to what it means to be Italian.