Life as a Guaglio'.


This paper proposes a re-examination of some 'classic' approaches to the problem of analyzing 'kinship' behaviour in Italy. The essay examines apprenticeship in several contexts and in several locations (southern and central Italy). It is argued that no one single trait, such as access to power (central to viewpoints that deal with 'patronage' and 'brokerage') can explain the behavioural complex associated with apprenticeship. Instead, the concept of public validation of social relationship appears to be a more fruitful tool for analyzing the simulation interplay of distancing and incorporation that characterizes apprentice-master relationship. It is argued that just as there is a strong incorporative tendency in the formation of social relationships - perhaps due to the pervasive notion of competition and limited good - there is an equally strong tendency at exclusion at the same level. That is, because of mutual economic and social interests on both parts, there is a tendency to incorporate apprentices into the same structural dynamics that govern 'close/private' relationships; the family, for example. But since the attaining of goals - fulfilling one's interessi - depends very much on performing in public, the master-apprentice relationship develops along other lines, which can be labelled 'close/public'.

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Lanoue, G., (1990) “Life as a Guaglio'.”, Ethnologia Europaea 21(1), 47-58. doi:


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Guy Lanoue (Universita' degli Studi di Chieti)



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