Italian Culture and Work Ethics

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Innovation, Vol. 12, No. 4, 1999 583 Working Values and the Italian Family MASSIMO BELLOTTO and ALBERTO ZATTI A B S T R A C T History teaches us that it is through the family that new generations are equipped with ethics and values regarding work. The advent of bourgeois society, with its characteristic openness towards other social classes, appears to have relegated the promotion of working values by families to the background. This study sets out to test the hypothesis according to which the family continues to maintain an important role in the transmission of working values. Based on data from the Work Importance Study (Super and Sverko, 1995: Life Roles, Values, a n d Careers, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass), two subgroups were…show more content…
Ethics are, as the etymology of the word suggests, the study of the 'customs' (ethos), the social habits, the relational practices of a people or social grouping. Morality relates more to the theme of how much certain behaviour corresponds to a reference model. In this sense, it is important to distinguish between ethics and morality when studying the customs and habits, in a word, the ethics of families (and not their morality). This is to avoid the pitfalls associated with referring to a particular set of values held by the family being analysed. What exacdy are the working values held by families? What relationship exists between these values and family needs? What are the motivations that stir the family organization? And which family values can be linked, even indirecdy, with work? Let us seek some answers to these important questions. Families in history have also been units of production. The peasant family, craft guilds, the factory worker families of the first and second industrial revolutions (Manoukian, 1976) are the most emblematic examples. In medieval society the chances of changing one's profession from the one inherited from the family were rather hmited. Children continued the working traditions of the family without having much choice in the matter. The transmission of working values within family groups, historically speaking, seemed to go without saying. However, it would be worthwhile to pose the question
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