Thursday, 5 May 2011

Culture: The complexity of Italian People

Many definitions have been formulated for culture: Because it is a vague, abstract notion there are many candidates for the ultimate definition

According to Goodenough (1971) ,

"Culture is a set of beliefs or standards, shared by a group of people, which help individual decide what is, what can be, how to feel, what to do and how to go about doing it."

Child and Kieser (1977) wrote

"Cultures can be defined as patterns of thought and mannerswhich are widely shared"


An infographic map of italy created by Alberto Antoniazzi

Italy is a young nation unified in 1861.
Before unification there was  A lot of different independent Nations with their own Culture and Language under the influence of foreign sovereigns: Spaniards in the south, the Pope in the middle regions, Austrians in the North-east and French in the North-west.
As a result today Italy is still not culturally united: big cultural differences between North (more Mitteleuropean attitude) and South (more Mediterranean).

Common Features
Despite of the regional differences, there are important features common among italians from Sicily to Südtirol:
> Hospitality and Friendliness: Italy has been crossroads of different people and cultures since acient times.
> Traditionalism: great respect for history and regional costumes and traditions.
> Strong Food Culture: Italians pay great attention to the quality of food and an healthy diet and are proud of traditional recipes.
Italians will always find time for a proper meal which have a fundamental socialization function.
> Attention to details: Products made in Italy are known for their quality.
> Style and Beauty Culture: Italians usually feel the strong need to take care of their appearance following the latest fashion trends.
Heavy enphasis to product appearance and design.
Strong awareness of the symbolic meaning of possessions (Usunier, 200).

Some common attitudes are negative.
Hofstede's model highlights them

 Power Distance (PDI): It suggests that a society's level of inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders.  Politics and Industry: Strict Hierarchies à Young people find opportunities abroad (China, U.S.A., UK)

Masculinity (MAS):  High in politics and managerial role à Women assertive and competitive, but the board room culture is masculine so that there are very few women in directional roles.

Individualism (IDV): Ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family à opposite to common stereotype of extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.

Catholic Religion was almost overwhelming till the late 60’s when the main party, Democrazia Cristiana (Christian Democracy), was under the influence of Vatican City.

The most of young people doesn't trust the Pope anymore because they think that Vatican City must not interfere with Italian goverments.

Chatholics still remain the great majority of believers

Despite of the decline of Religion among young generations, the influence of Church on culture is still strong. For instance colour meanings originated from priests' dresses colours:

Red: Blood and sacrifice (used during the Easter Friday)
White: Purity (used during Christmas and baptism rites)
Gold: Glory (used during Easter day)
Green: Hope (ordinary days)
Purple: Mourn and penitence(Used during funerals)

Italy was the 8th largest exporter in the world in 2009 (CIA, 2009).
 Italy is famous in the world for luxury cars and fashion as well as food and wine but not every product is exportable.

Successful drinks like Spritz and Chinotto are difficult to export because of their unique taste.

Here's the latest commercial of these two drinks:

Aperol Spritz commercial links the drink with a fresh summer sunset on the sea.

Chinò San Pellegrino commercial stresses the unique features of the product through linking them to the diversity of the main character compared to the other bar customers who drink the same, flat and boring drinks. Chinò - Your Dark Side. 


> CIA (2009) The World Factbook - Country Comparison Exports [online]. CIA. Available from: [Accessed: 5 May 2011]
> Usunier, J. (2000) Marketing Across Cultures. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited