Emanuele Ferragina

Banfield's ghost: an empirical test of amoral familism theory

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Amoral familism is a sociological theory, constantly referred to explain the lack of collective action in the south of Italy and other geographical areas, and highly influential in different fields, i.e. political sociology, anthropology, business studies, economics, and psychology. This paper moves from the current theoretical debate to an empirical verification of amoral familism using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) and EVS dataset (1999-2000). The findings suggest a paradox: amoral familists are less incline to collective action; however, amoral familism does not explain the lack of collective action among southern Italians. We conclude affirming the general validity of Banfield theory and explaining the incorrect association between amoral familism and southern Italian ethos.


  • JEL Classifications: Z13 - Economic sociology
  • C38 - Factor analysis


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