The Moral Basis of a Backward Society by Edward C. Banfield

Is Philippines another Italy in the time of Banfield, where

many of Italy’s graduates leave to escape the system of raccomandazioni, or connections (often through families), that rules the labour market. Examples of such practices can be found in every country, but Italy is different for two reasons: raccomandazioni are ubiquitous and rarely questioned. It might be tempting to ascribe this preference for connections over qualifications to what Edward Banfield, an American sociologist, called “amoral familism”. In a book on poverty in southern Italy, “The Moral Basis of a Backward Society”, published in 1958 but still controversial today, Banfield argued that Italian family bonds are so tight that they prevent people from coming together to create outcomes that benefit a larger number.


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