Cultural warfare and trust

Cultural warfare and trust: Fighting the Mafia in Palermo

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Cultural warfare and trust
    Book Description:

    Cultural warfare and trust: fighting the Mafia in Palermo concentrates on a central issue in research on democratic processes: the development of generalised trust. The existence of generalised trust and confidence in a society is decisive for economic development and an effective democracy. Is it possible to fight persistent values of distrust and non-cooperation? Is it possible to support the development of generalised trust through public action and education? The book addresses these questions by examining political efforts to combat Palermo’s Mafia-controlled heritage and to turn a tradition of non-cooperation and distrust into cooperation and trust. In particular, it focuses on the school program launched in Palermo during the mid-1990s, which was designed to break the Mafia’s territorial and mental control. Combining theories on social capital and civic education, the author presents and analyses new quantitative and qualitative research carried out in seven public schools in Palermo. This book will be valuable to students, academics and researchers interested in social capital and trust, Italian politics, civic education, organised crime, local government and democratic practice.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-217-4
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. List of tables
    (pp. x-xii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    Is it possible to fight persistent values of distrust? Is it possible to support the development of generalised trust between citizens through public action from above, through civic education?

    Fukuyama once described the accumulation of social capital as ‘a complicated and in many ways mysterious cultural process. While governments can enact policies that have the effect of depleting social capital, they have great difficulties understanding how to build it up again.’¹ Stolle said that questions about how the norms of reciprocity and values of trust are generalised and institutionalised represent ‘the most under-researched area in social capital studies, supporting only...

  6. 2 The origins of generalised trust
    (pp. 19-39)

    Researchers have identified several distinctions between various forms of social capital. While social capital has been defined in relation to norms, attitudes and patterns of interaction, interpersonal relationships are its central component. Hooghe and Stolle make a distinction between structural and attitudinal social capital: whereas structural social capital is related to networks, for example membership of associations, attitudinal social capital refers to attitudes to trust and reciprocity.¹

    Furthermore, different forms of structural social capital may have different effects on democracy. Not all organisations are promoters of democratic values and democracy. For instance, a group could develop very strong ties between...

  7. 3 Methods
    (pp. 40-53)

    Our point of departure was that Palermo represents a case where change isleast likelyto occur. If change occurs in this area, despite the hostile environment, we can be fairly optimistic about the possibility of changing people’s attitudes elsewhere. The project focus was therefore on the school programme (described in Chapter 5) in four of Palermo’s most deprived areas, as ‘the worst of the worst case scenarios’. The selected areas share several characteristics: high density of criminality and Mafia dominance, low socio-economic level and weak presence of government agencies or other associations. Three of these poor areas are on...

  8. 4 The Mafia
    (pp. 54-73)

    Organised crime is sometimes analysed as a parallel institution to the state: a separate organisation with its own rules for regulation of conflicts and its own activities. Organised crime may, however, interact with the state at different political levels. This may be based on an exchange relation, where different services are exchanged between the two actors, the state and the criminal group. An exchange of favours is an example that applies at both local and national levels. The interest at the national level may be to exchange mobilised votes for guarantees of impunity, political passivity or the obstruction of proceedings...

  9. 5 Cultural warfare
    (pp. 74-96)

    While a great deal has been written on the Mafia in Sicily, there is less literature on the anti-Mafia movement. Santino’sStoria del movimento antimafiais an indispensable source for readers interested in the history of that movement. Santino’s contribution is a detailed description of more than 100 years of anti-Mafia efforts, starting with the SicilianFasci(a workers’ movement) in the 1890s, continuing with the peasant protests during the post-war period, and concluding with the anti-Mafia movement during the last 40 years. Jamieson’sThe Antimafia: Italy’s Fight Against Organized Crimefocuses on more recent events in an analysis of...

  10. 6 Students’ trust in political institutions
    (pp. 97-115)

    Distrust of state institutions is frequently mentioned in the literature pertaining to the Mafia, as well as in the literature on southern Italy in general. The dominant explanation for this lack of trust is historical. It is argued that countries with histories of foreign domination by different colonial powers may exhibit a weakness of formal government structures and a perceived lack of legitimacy among citizens. Colonisers have come and gone and different models of governance have been brought to Sicily. Instead of relying on the benevolence of the state, citizens have withdrawn into informal systems of self-help, such as the...

  11. 7 Students’ perceptions of generalised trust
    (pp. 116-136)

    As described in Chapter 2, research has shown that generalised trust is important for personal happiness, safer neighbourhoods and cooperation between citizens. The presence of generalised trust is also related to better government, economic development, less corruption and more stable democratic institutions. It is believed to be necessary for the establishment of civil society, as it renders people more inclined to participate in political parties, trade unions or any other kind of organisation that is beneficial for democracy in general.¹

    In the literature on Italy, southern Italians are often described as less trustful than those in other parts of the...

  12. 8 Explaining generalised trust
    (pp. 137-162)
    Hanna Bäck, Carina Gunnarson and Magdalena Inkinen

    In the previous chapter, we saw that students had most trust in Italians, followed by trust in Sicilians, Palermitans and foreigners. Results from the 2002 survey showed that 54 per cent of the students had trust in Italians, 41 per cent in Sicilians and 33 per cent in Palermitans. The lowest levels of trust were shown towards foreigners: only 26 per cent expressed trust in foreigners. There were no significant differences between the three socio-economic areas and changes between 2002 and 2005 were small.¹

    The descriptive statistics presented in the previous chapter did not permit an analysis of change on...

  13. 9 The Letter Project – students’ own stories
    (pp. 163-198)

    This chapter is based on letters from students in which they describe their life inside and outside school. What are their stories about school and how do they evaluate their experiences of school?

    In this chapter we will explore students’ letters in order to improve our understanding of the school variables discussed in the last chapter. In this way the letters will be used as a complement to the questionnaires.¹ We will also endeavour to see whether students’ letters from schools A1 and A3 differ. As Table 8.3 showed, the schools performed quite differently on our trust indexes. While students...

  14. 10 Conclusion
    (pp. 199-223)

    A high level of generalised trust is a desirable value in any society. Generalised trust is positively correlated with economic growth and democracy, and is more advantageous for income redistribution between rich and poor citizens. Trust leads to better government, less corruption, less crime and happier citizens. Generalised trust is also important for donations or benevolence to other people. When trust declines, people’s willingness to make contributions to people different from themselves declines as well.¹ This study has raised the question of whether it is possible to fight persistent values of distrust and non-cooperation.Is it possible to support the...

  15. Appendix: the distribution of the questionnaires
    (pp. 224-229)
  16. References
    (pp. 230-236)
  17. Index
    (pp. 237-246)