I completed my practicum for the School for International Training’s Program in Intercultural Management at the Rome (Italy) campus of Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut). There, I fulfilled the roles of intercultural trainer and management evaluator. An Italian American, I had to interact with North American students and Italian faculty and staff. This situation led me to question first my own bicultural identity and then the identity of the Italian American community. My explorations further led me to investigate the nature of development.

I was drawn to explore how the Italian American ethnic identity affects the way the group lives. Some sociologists conceive of values as preceding identity. For example, there are researchers who state that certain preconditions must exist within an individual that lead him to modernity and development. Do the values of the Italian American community keep it from being fully developed? What effects do the values of the Italian American community have on its members? Are modernity and development coterminous?

These issues are relevant to Italian Americans or to any group that is in any way marginal in this world approaching modernity ever faster. Furthermore, I propose that modernity and development are not the same. In fact, the Italian American view of development, the betterment of the family, contrasts markedly with the modern view of development, the drive to individualism and consumerism. I conclude by offering suggestions to interculturalists working with Italian Americans as well as giving a critique of modernism.


Growth and Development | Sociology of Culture