Monday, October 14, 2019

Italian Culture and Work Ethics Essay Example for Free

Italian Culture and Work Ethics Essay 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 compared (working adults, and high school and university students), considered as representing two different generations (youths vs adults). Some results from cluster anatysis show how substantial similarity exists between adults and youths in terms of ideal values, expressing what would be important in an ideal world. The difference between the subgroups lies in expectations (termed expected values) relating to what would be important in my actual work environment. Here, relatively more important values for young people are relatively less important for working adults. Another result presented concerns the relationship existing betiveen value typobgies (classed into six categories) and personal character associated with birth order. What emerges is that the only children are prevalently the tough type, while the first bom, considered by some to be custodians of family traditions, tum out to be more independent than the second or third bom, identified above all by their calm and sociable characters. Introduction: the work ethic and the family ethic This study presents the results of a survey conducted nationaUy in 1995 on a sample of 1523 subjects (represendng the three main geo-cultural areas of Italy: North, Centre and South—see BeUotto, 1997). The objecdve of the survey was to determine values associated with work. For this a quesdonnaire, a values scale (VS) was used, devised by an intemadonal team pardcipadng in a world-wide survey called the Work Importance Study—WIS (Super and Sverko 1995). With the data coUected, a profile of the value judgements of Italian families was formulated. The importance of working values within the family context has been little explored from a psychological point of view. Yet the family is characterized by the ethical nature of the reladonships it contains, hence its values (Boszormeny-Nagy and Spark, 1973; Cigoli, 1992). The family is rightly placed in that class of insdtudons that Hegel indicated as the ethical horizon of human society. There are very few Italian studies on the processes of value transmission within families, not to mendon the handing down of working values. While one of the principal funcdons recognized as typical of families is the socializadon of the individual, studies regarding the socializadon by families with regard to work are rarely encountered. 1351-1610/99/040583-13 Â © 1999 Interdisciplinary Centre for Comparative Research in the Social Sciences 584 Massimo Bellotto and Alberto ^atti The lack of research in this field can be partly explained by the relatively recent history of the concept of the family as a scientific subject for study in social psychology. At least until the end of the 1940s, families were considered as a group typology (Lewin, 1951). Successively, interest focused on the pathology of family relationships (Bateson et al. , 1956; Epstein et al. , 1982; Bamhill, 1979; Watzlawick et al. , 1967). It was only in die 1970s that the so-called normal family was considered worthy of psychological investigation as a scientific subject (Scabini, 1985). In recent years, however, the theme of values and the ethical importance of families has emerged strongly in a variety of fields, from individual and family psychotherapy to organizational psychology. In this article we would like to propose that a terminological distinction be made between ethics and morality. 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 ones 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 of how families educate their members today with regard to work. Families in Westem society have changed profoundly. The social mobility intrinsic to the very idea of bourgeois society (Weber, 1904) has led to the privatization of family relationships (Aries, 1960) and to the specialization of family practices to the sentimental sphere. The educational role of families is becoming more and more marginal, being delegated to collective institutions such as schools. Moreover, from the viewpoint of economic history, families have become increasingly characterized as units of consumption, losing in part their role as units of production. From a macrosocial perspective, a fundamental problem emerges in Italy: the percentage of youth unemployment is one of the highest in Europe, especially in the South. Working Values and the Italian Family 585 majority of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 live at home: 82. 4% of males and 72. 5% of females. In the next age bracket, 25-34, many more young men sdU live at home with their parents (33. 6%) compared with young women of the same age (22. 9%). According to some demographic projecdons to the year 2000, these percentages wiU touch 36. 3% for young males and 34. 2% for young females. There are cultural and ideological reasons for this phenomenon, such as the idea that marriage is the only proper route towards adult independence (8 males out of 10 and 9 women out of 10 leave the family only foUowing marriage). However, social factors also make a contribudon, in particular, high youth unemployment and a shortage of rental accommodadon. The result is that families coundng a young adult as a member are a socially significant category. Psychological factors and value systems also play an important role. The working values tradidonaUy handed down in Italian families place heavy emphasis on permanent and full-dme employment. The definidve departure from the family is often condidonal on minimizing the risks of independence. Among others, for these two factors (permanent fuU-dme employment and minimum risk of independence), life-dme employment in government and union employment policies have come to be considered as a necessary and sufficient prerequisite for the attainment of adulthood. The quest for so-caUed guaranteed employment has led Italian society to one of the most cridcal paradoxes in its history: the creadon of a barrier to occupadonal access for youth. Thus, the one prerequisite considered a vital and sufficient condidon for the evoludon of Italian families, life-dme employment, has become one of the major obstacles to the same end. By disallowing generational change in employment, it has become impossible for young generadons to enter the workforce, and hence to reach independence. * Following on these consideradons, we decided to use the results of a study on working values (WIS 1995) to shed some light on value differences between young students and adult workers. As mendoned above, very few studies have been carried out in Italy on the transmission of values within families. While the WIS study was not designed for this purpose, we believed that it could give some indicadons regarding the generadon gap (youths vs adults) and differences in social status (students vs workers). The underlying hypothesis to tjiis study is therefore that working adult values can be considered as being similar to those of parents; likewise, those held by young students can be considered as being similar to those of offspring. The WIS survey.

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