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By M. Seymour

The preferred referendum of 1974 which affirmed Italy's recently-won divorce legislation is broadly considered as a turning element in glossy Italian historical past, however the lengthy tale at the back of that fight has remained principally unexpected. utilizing the debates over divorce as a lens, this ebook is a examine of the hunt to modernize Italy, Italians, and Italian marriage. even supposing the 1974 referendum settled Italy's 'divorce question,' the  concerns on the center of that question - fairly the connection among person rights, the country, and faith - stay critical to trendy politics.

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Additional resources for Debating Divorce in Italy: Marriage and the Making of Modern Italians, 1860-1974 (Italian & Italian American Studies)

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65 Serafini therefore places the issue of divorce within an overall scheme for national improvement, based on the notion of liberating women from the rigidities of the prevailing system of marriage. 66 But it is important to emphasize that the main purpose of divorce, according to Serafini, was to reinforce the bonds of affection that held families together, by making those bonds more genuine. The family remained the key element in all that makes society strong and good. MAKING ITALIANS 29 Disseminating the Idea of Divorce Serafini’s technique of viewing Italy’s lack of divorce in an international context was not uncommon.

She accepted marriage as an aspect of civilization. 62 Unlike those of her male colleagues, however, Serafini’s comments were written from the point of view of a woman. As things stood, it was essential for a female to marry because that was the principal role society had assigned her. For a variety of reasons this could lead to bad marriages. ”63 It was this homogeneity that Serafini suggested would be the only guarantee of a long and happy marriage. The deleterious effects of pressure to marry were often exacerbated by other factors, such as poverty (which further reduced a woman’s choice), parental pressure, and female inexperience.

When these flaws were first revealed in all their depth by the virtual civil war in which southern peasants rebelled against the new government in the early 1860s, MAKING ITALIANS 33 it underlined the social fragility of the state and justified, in the eyes of the new government, a particularly rigid approach to an issue that went to the heart of the social fabric. Though that attitude was firm, it was not inflexible. As even the more moderate ideals of the Risorgimento encountered the social realities of the newly created state, Italian politics became a judicious blend of outward sternness and inner compromise, thus continuing an essentially Cavourian tradition of political pragmatism.

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