Is the South so different? Italian and Spanish families in a comparative perspective

Jurado Guerrero, Teresa y Naldini, Manuela . (1996) Is the South so different? Italian and Spanish families in a comparative perspective. South European Society and Politics (1,3), 1996, p. 42–66

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Título Is the South so different? Italian and Spanish families in a comparative perspective
Autor(es) Jurado Guerrero, Teresa
Naldini, Manuela
Materia(s) Sociología
Abstract This article analyses family changes in Italy and Spain from 1960 to 1990 and contrasts them with four Central/Northern European countries. Italy and Spain show extremely rapid family changes, which nevertheless do not lead to a convergence between southern and central/northern families. The particularities of the southern family model are a high degree of cross-generational cohabitation, a high frequency of social contacts and help within kinship, a strong institutionalization of marriage, a low female employment rate in the formal labour market, a low fertility rate, and widespread family and child-oriented attitudes. In addition, relations between generations are seen more in terms of obligations than in terms of individual choice. We conclude that the specific economic situation, the particularities of social policies and the family culture in Italy and Spain are important barriers for a further individualization of family relations in these societies. The aim of this paper is to analyse Italy and Spain as representatives of a Mediterranean type of society. The question whether such a type exists with respect to family changes will be explored here. For this purpose we use a comparative perspective. Our assumption is that the division of labour between state, family, labour market and church in Mediterranean countries is a specific one. The societal configuration in the South will be analysed from the perspective of the family. First, we will describe differences in demography and family among countries as well as cultural differences observed by opinion surveys. Second, we will develop some hypotheses in order to explain the southern family characteristics, their interrelations and their relation to other institutions. To this end, we will concentrate on the possible effects that southern modernization processes, employment and unemployment trends, family laws, social policies and some historical and cultural peculiarities in Italy and Spain have on family patterns. In this paper the hypotheses will be put forward only in a preliminary way, without testing them. The socio-economic crisis that has affected all European countries since the mid-seventies has gradually produced a collective loss of faith in the possibility of uninterrupted economic growth and disillusion concerning the programmes and promises of the welfare society. As a result of the crisis, the institutional framework began to change and the social division of responsibilities among the various institutional spheres, state, market and family, had to (and still has to) be re-negotiated (Flora 1985). In the new social and economic context, the interest in the family in the analysis of western-welfare society has become wider. From a cross-national perspective it is often assumed that southern welfare states have a different division of labour between state, market and family than other Northern/Central European societies (Ferrera 1994). Studies on this field show that, despite the development of the welfare state, the family and the ‘serving work’ (Balbo 1983) carried out by women in southern welfare societies have continued to constitute an indispensable resource for the satisfaction of many basic needs. The changing age structure of the population, the decreasing fertility rate and the emerging female employment patterns in Italy and Spain may affect the southern division of labour in an important way. While analysts are emphasizing the importance of the family for the satisfaction of many basic needs in this welfare state crisis period, the most “family-oriented” countries are moving towards a more individualistic society? Is this a contradiction? First of all, it needs to be determined to what extent the family is changing in the South and therefore we will give a general overview on these changes in the European context. Since 1965, in most European countries - with varying intensity and timing - a reduction in the fertility rate and an increase in the divorce rate has taken place. These new family behaviours have been related to the gradual diffusion of cohabitation and to the increase in births out of wedlock. During the 1970s these family changes became more radical in Scandinavia and more widespread in Central Europe, but they remained weak in Southern Europe. What was really new were the relations between sexes and generations. Equal opportunities became an important issue in public life (Roussel 1992), and changes in family roles also occurred. More women have entered the labour market, in a wider range of occupations and for a longer period than at any other time since the Industrial Revolution (Rapoport 1989).
Palabras clave familia
Sur de Europa
estado de bienestar
Fecha 1996-01-01
Formato application/pdf
Publicado en la Revista South European Society and Politics (1,3), 1996, p. 42–66
Idioma eng
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Creado: Mon, 19 Jan 2009, 16:35:26 CET