Fate, Honor, Family and Village: Demographic and Cultural Change in Rural Italy Since 1800

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9780202309163: Fate, Honor, Family and Village: Demographic and Cultural Change in Rural Italy Since 1800
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The Italian peasantry has often been described as tragic, backward, hopeless, downtrodden, static, and passive. In Fate and Honor, Family and Village, Rudolph Bell argues against this characterization by reconstructing the complete demographic history of four country villages since 1800. He analyzes births, marriages, and deaths in terms of four concepts that capture more accurately and sympathetically the essence of the Italian peasant's life: Fortuna (fate), onore (honor, dignity), famiglia (family), and campanilismo (village).Fortuna is the cultural wellspring of Italian peasant society, the worldview from which all social life flows. The concept of Fortuna does not refer to philosophical questions, predestination, or value judgments. Rather, Fortuna is the sum total of all explanations of outcomes perceived to be beyond human control. Thus, in Bell's view, high mortality does not lead peasants to a resigned acceptance of their fate; instead, they rely on honor, reciprocal exchanges of favors, and marriage to forge new links in their familial and social networks. With thorough documentation in graphs and tables, the author evaluates peasant reactions to time, work, family, space, migration, and protest to portray rural Italians as active, flexible, and shrewd, participating fully in shaping their destinies.Bell asserts that the real problem of the Mezzogiorno is not one of resistance to technology, of high birth rates, or even of illiteracy. It is one of solving technical questions in ways that foster dependency. The historical and sociological practice of treating peasant culture as backward, secondary, and circumscribed only encourages disruption and ultimately blocks the road to economic and political justice in a post-modern world.

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"This book will be exceedingly valuable to future ethnic specialists, rural sociologists, students of the Italian experience and immigration historians.... Bell, an historian, shows an extraordinary ability to fathom the sophistications of a foreign culture with grace and acuity.... [T]his book is an ethnohistory without the jargon. The author argues persuasively against the view that Italy's peasantry wallowed in a sea of tragedy, hopelessness, backwardness and downtrodden status.... [T]his book belongs in most general libraries. It is a refreshingly welcome piece of research and writing."

--Andrew Rolle, International Migration Review

"In the 1950s social scientists discovered the Italian peasant.... A number of works on peasant society, of which Bell's is one of the most recent, have since appeared.... He combines the techniques of anthropological field research, which rely mainly on prolonged observation-participation in the community's daily life, with historical analyses, in which archival sources and other documents yield data illustrating events and trends over time. The book focuses on four villages in different regions of Italy: Nissoria in Sicily, Rogliano in Calabria, Castel San Giorgio in Campania, and Albareto in Emilia-Romagna. The period studied spans almost 200 years.... Bell's research was carried out over five years. In trying to assess the extent of demographic and cultural change in his four towns, Bell used many sources: national and local statistical records, censuses, and government reports on peasant life going back to the Jacini inquiry of the 1870s and 1880s.... His multi-dimensional interpretation welds the past, investigated by using the historian's traditional methods, to the present, best understood by an anthropological-sociological approach.... [T]he book should be of interest to scholars in various disciplines."

--Emiliana P. Noether, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"This is an intelligent study that asks many new and interesting questions."

--Adrian Lyttelton, The American Historical Review

"The organizing premise of this meticulous analysis of demographic and cultural change in rural Italy is that Italian peasant culture makes good economic sense from the standpoint of the peasant.... Bell marshalls an impressive array of archival, and... ethnographic data to prove that in rural Italy, fatalism is a sensible ideology for the powerless, and that familism, on all class levels, has been and remains a good way of compensating for the defects of bureaucratic centralism while frustrating its purposes."

--Thomas Belmonte, Ethnohistory

"The demography here is systematic and rigorous and its use to illuminate the nature of culture in rural Italy is imaginative and innovative.... [A] well written, interesting exercise in social history."

--John W. Cole, The Journal of Economic History

"Bell's study is of genuine interest because he has attempted to break away from that older tradition of ethnological and anthropological studies which still tends to look to the countries of the modern Mediterranean as preferred feoffs."

--John A. Davis, The Journal of Modern History

"This book will be exceedingly valuable to future ethnic specialists, rural sociologists, students of the Italian experience and immigration historians.... Bell, an historian, shows an extraordinary ability to fathom the sophistications of a foreign culture with grace and acuity.... [T]his book is an ethnohistory without the jargon. The author argues persuasively against the view that Italy's peasantry wallowed in a sea of tragedy, hopelessness, backwardness and downtrodden status.... [T]his book belongs in most general libraries. It is a refreshingly welcome piece of research and writing."

--Andrew Rolle, International Migration Review

"In the 1950s social scientists discovered the Italian peasant.... A number of works on peasant society, of which Bell's is one of the most recent, have since appeared.... He combines the techniques of anthropological field research, which rely mainly on prolonged observation-participation in the community's daily life, with historical analyses, in which archival sources and other documents yield data illustrating events and trends over time. The book focuses on four villages in different regions of Italy: Nissoria in Sicily, Rogliano in Calabria, Castel San Giorgio in Campania, and Albareto in Emilia-Romagna. The period studied spans almost 200 years.... Bell's research was carried out over five years. In trying to assess the extent of demographic and cultural change in his four towns, Bell used many sources: national and local statistical records, censuses, and government reports on peasant life going back to the Jacini inquiry of the 1870s and 1880s.... His multi-dimensional interpretation welds the past, investigated by using the historian's traditional methods, to the present, best understood by an anthropological-sociological approach.... [T]he book should be of interest to scholars in various disciplines."

--Emiliana P. Noether, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"This is an intelligent study that asks many new and interesting questions."

--Adrian Lyttelton, The American Historical Review

"The organizing premise of this meticulous analysis of demographic and cultural change in rural Italy is that Italian peasant culture makes good economic sense from the standpoint of the peasant.... Bell marshalls an impressive array of archival, and... ethnographic data to prove that in rural Italy, fatalism is a sensible ideology for the powerless, and that familism, on all class levels, has been and remains a good way of compensating for the defects of bureaucratic centralism while frustrating its purposes."

--Thomas Belmonte, Ethnohistory

"The demography here is systematic and rigorous and its use to illuminate the nature of culture in rural Italy is imaginative and innovative.... [A] well written, interesting exercise in social history."

--John W. Cole, The Journal of Economic History

"Bell's study is of genuine interest because he has attempted to break away from that older tradition of ethnological and anthropological studies which still tends to look to the countries of the modern Mediterranean as preferred feoffs."

--John A. Davis, The Journal of Modern History



-This book will be exceedingly valuable to future ethnic specialists, rural sociologists, students of the Italian experience and immigration historians.... Bell, an historian, shows an extraordinary ability to fathom the sophistications of a foreign culture with grace and acuity.... [T]his book is an ethnohistory without the jargon. The author argues persuasively against the view that Italy's peasantry wallowed in a sea of tragedy, hopelessness, backwardness and downtrodden status.... [T]his book belongs in most general libraries. It is a refreshingly welcome piece of research and writing.-

--Andrew Rolle, International Migration Review

-In the 1950s social scientists discovered the Italian peasant.... A number of works on peasant society, of which Bell's is one of the most recent, have since appeared.... He combines the techniques of anthropological field research, which rely mainly on prolonged observation-participation in the community's daily life, with historical analyses, in which archival sources and other documents yield data illustrating events and trends over time. The book focuses on four villages in different regions of Italy: Nissoria in Sicily, Rogliano in Calabria, Castel San Giorgio in Campania, and Albareto in Emilia-Romagna. The period studied spans almost 200 years.... Bell's research was carried out over five years. In trying to assess the extent of demographic and cultural change in his four towns, Bell used many sources: national and local statistical records, censuses, and government reports on peasant life going back to the Jacini inquiry of the 1870s and 1880s.... His multi-dimensional interpretation welds the past, investigated by using the historian's traditional methods, to the present, best understood by an anthropological-sociological approach.... [T]he book should be of interest to scholars in various disciplines.-

--Emiliana P. Noether, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History

-This is an intelligent study that asks many new and interesting questions.-

--Adrian Lyttelton, The American Historical Review

-The organizing premise of this meticulous analysis of demographic and cultural change in rural Italy is that Italian peasant culture makes good economic sense from the standpoint of the peasant.... Bell marshalls an impressive array of archival, and... ethnographic data to prove that in rural Italy, fatalism is a sensible ideology for the powerless, and that familism, on all class levels, has been and remains a good way of compensating for the defects of bureaucratic centralism while frustrating its purposes.-

--Thomas Belmonte, Ethnohistory

-The demography here is systematic and rigorous and its use to illuminate the nature of culture in rural Italy is imaginative and innovative.... [A] well written, interesting exercise in social history.-

--John W. Cole, The Journal of Economic History

-Bell's study is of genuine interest because he has attempted to break away from that older tradition of ethnological and anthropological studies which still tends to look to the countries of the modern Mediterranean as preferred feoffs.-

--John A. Davis, The Journal of Modern History

About the Author:

Rudolph M. Bell is professor of history at Rutgers University. Some of his more recent books published include, The Voices of Gemma Galgani: The Life and Afterlife of a Modern Saint, with Cristina Mazzoni, How to Do It: Guides to Good Living for Renaissance Italians, and Holy Anorexia.

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Rudolph M. Bell
Published by Taylor & Francis Inc, United States (2007)
ISBN 10: 0202309169 ISBN 13: 9780202309163
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Book Description Taylor & Francis Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. The Italian peasantry has often been described as tragic, backward, hopeless, downtrodden, static, and passive. In Fate and Honor, Family and Village, Rudolph Bell argues against this characterization by reconstructing the complete demographic history of four country villages since 1800. He analyzes births, marriages, and deaths in terms of four concepts that capture more accurately and sympathetically the essence of the Italian peasant's life: Fortuna (fate), onore (honor, dignity), famiglia (family), and campanilismo (village).Fortuna is the cultural wellspring of Italian peasant society, the worldview from which all social life flows. The concept of Fortuna does not refer to philosophical questions, predestination, or value judgments. Rather, Fortuna is the sum total of all explanations of outcomes perceived to be beyond human control. Thus, in Bell's view, high mortality does not lead peasants to a resigned acceptance of their fate; instead, they rely on honor, reciprocal exchanges of favors, and marriage to forge new links in their familial and social networks. With thorough documentation in graphs and tables, the author evaluates peasant reactions to time, work, family, space, migration, and protest to portray rural Italians as active, flexible, and shrewd, participating fully in shaping their destinies.Bell asserts that the real problem of the Mezzogiorno is not one of resistance to technology, of high birth rates, or even of illiteracy. It is one of solving technical questions in ways that foster dependency. The historical and sociological practice of treating peasant culture as backward, secondary, and circumscribed only encourages disruption and ultimately blocks the road to economic and political justice in a post-modern world. Seller Inventory # AAV9780202309163

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ISBN 10: 0202309169 ISBN 13: 9780202309163
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Book Description Taylor & Francis Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. The Italian peasantry has often been described as tragic, backward, hopeless, downtrodden, static, and passive. In Fate and Honor, Family and Village, Rudolph Bell argues against this characterization by reconstructing the complete demographic history of four country villages since 1800. He analyzes births, marriages, and deaths in terms of four concepts that capture more accurately and sympathetically the essence of the Italian peasant's life: Fortuna (fate), onore (honor, dignity), famiglia (family), and campanilismo (village).Fortuna is the cultural wellspring of Italian peasant society, the worldview from which all social life flows. The concept of Fortuna does not refer to philosophical questions, predestination, or value judgments. Rather, Fortuna is the sum total of all explanations of outcomes perceived to be beyond human control. Thus, in Bell's view, high mortality does not lead peasants to a resigned acceptance of their fate; instead, they rely on honor, reciprocal exchanges of favors, and marriage to forge new links in their familial and social networks. With thorough documentation in graphs and tables, the author evaluates peasant reactions to time, work, family, space, migration, and protest to portray rural Italians as active, flexible, and shrewd, participating fully in shaping their destinies.Bell asserts that the real problem of the Mezzogiorno is not one of resistance to technology, of high birth rates, or even of illiteracy. It is one of solving technical questions in ways that foster dependency. The historical and sociological practice of treating peasant culture as backward, secondary, and circumscribed only encourages disruption and ultimately blocks the road to economic and political justice in a post-modern world. Seller Inventory # BTE9780202309163

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Rudolph M. Bell
Published by Taylor & Francis Inc, United States (2007)
ISBN 10: 0202309169 ISBN 13: 9780202309163
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Book Description Taylor & Francis Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. The Italian peasantry has often been described as tragic, backward, hopeless, downtrodden, static, and passive. In Fate and Honor, Family and Village, Rudolph Bell argues against this characterization by reconstructing the complete demographic history of four country villages since 1800. He analyzes births, marriages, and deaths in terms of four concepts that capture more accurately and sympathetically the essence of the Italian peasant's life: Fortuna (fate), onore (honor, dignity), famiglia (family), and campanilismo (village).Fortuna is the cultural wellspring of Italian peasant society, the worldview from which all social life flows. The concept of Fortuna does not refer to philosophical questions, predestination, or value judgments. Rather, Fortuna is the sum total of all explanations of outcomes perceived to be beyond human control. Thus, in Bell's view, high mortality does not lead peasants to a resigned acceptance of their fate; instead, they rely on honor, reciprocal exchanges of favors, and marriage to forge new links in their familial and social networks. With thorough documentation in graphs and tables, the author evaluates peasant reactions to time, work, family, space, migration, and protest to portray rural Italians as active, flexible, and shrewd, participating fully in shaping their destinies.Bell asserts that the real problem of the Mezzogiorno is not one of resistance to technology, of high birth rates, or even of illiteracy. It is one of solving technical questions in ways that foster dependency. The historical and sociological practice of treating peasant culture as backward, secondary, and circumscribed only encourages disruption and ultimately blocks the road to economic and political justice in a post-modern world. Seller Inventory # AAV9780202309163

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