Situating ascriptions of independence and dependence in Italian family capitalism

in Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale
Author:
Sylvia YanagisakoStanford University syanag@stanford.edu

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Recent anthropological studies of Italy have presented vivid and compelling accounts of the anxieties about precarity and economic dependence that have emerged as both state protections of employment and social welfare provisions have weakened. This essay, in contrast, argues that for a substantial sector of the Italian populace, work relations have been governed less by a state‐regulated regime of labour than by kinship ideologies and relations. Since the beginning of industrial manufacturing in the mid‐19th century and continuing into the 21st century, family firms have been the dominant employer in Italy. By following the changes in the silk industry and its allied clothing manufacturing sector in the 25 years from 1985 to 2010, this essay shows how aspirations and ascriptions of economic independence and dependence among firm owners, their children and hired managers are shaped by kinship relations and class trajectories.

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