Academic journal article Italian Sociological Review

The Meaning of Made in Italy Changes in a Changing World

Academic journal article Italian Sociological Review

The Meaning of Made in Italy Changes in a Changing World

Article excerpt


In this article we suggest some food for thought about the possibility of shifting the assumption of 'Made in.' to the one of 'Made by.'. As the starting point of our reflections, the question is: does Made in Italy still exist? This is not meant to be a provocative question, just a way to consider a reality which has already been felt beyond all the widespread opinions. The change is already on its way, in its various and multiple forms, even if nowadays we have no clear references or data that can be used to perceive and understand the phenomenon. That's why we are using the old references also when they can only explain a part of the problem, without capturing the changes, which are transforming the meanings usually assigned to Made in Italy. This way of thinking inevitably imparts new perspectives on the relationship between Italy and the world. The main subject of focus is not only on the production - particularly the place of production - but on the consumers and their attitudes, values, and behaviours.

This means to enhance the 'Italy followers communities', which play an important part in the economic and cultural significance of Made in Italy and therefore able to provide a win-win link between Italy and the world. A link which may lead to proposals for it to be considered from a political point of view as well. In particular, 'the Italy followers communities' or 'Italici' as we used to call them, following Piero Bassetti's ideas, (Bassetti, 2015, 2008; Giumelli, 2010; D'Aquino; 2014), love Italian goods and for this reason they buy them or even, in some cases, produce them. All these products boast some values of the Italian culture, creating the so-called Italian way of living. There are various examples of some not so authentic Italian firms that produce and sell the Italian way of living, which we will discuss in depth later on.

We believe that attention to the complexity of the meaning of Made in Italy implies the idea of re-thinking it in connection with economic and political measures, 'in dealing in a coherent way,' with the 'policies for its promotion, development and protection in foreign markets' (Esposito, 2006: xix).

It is a funnel-shaped work, starting from the very general concepts - naturally paradigmatic - such as globalization, or better glocaligation, in order to get, afterwards to a point of estimating the possibility of the changes, the impact on the identity of products, and on consumer attitudes in various countries where, for instance, Made in Italy is released or sold. We will use some fully, globally and trans-disciplinary acknowledged expertise, a set of data and exemples which will objectify our analysis even if dealing with a strong sociological and cultural point of view.

This paper reflects the work I have produced as a member of the Advisory Board of Assocamerestero1, in which the theme of Made in Italy and the new meanings related to it, with respect to prospects and developments, has become an important subject of internal discussion. Although it has not on these occasions produced an official written text, the occasion has given rise to reflections and an awareness that cannot be left out, but which have the possibility of being developed in this paper (Giumelli, 2014b).

We do not expect to be exhaustive and complete, we aim to provide a hint of reflections that may require further discussions, and various kind of contributions - cultural, economic, business, sociology, and so on - which will give rise to a common consciousness of all global changes and the consequences also in our particular case of study. Therefore, we are dealing with an interpretative work where we also can meet experiences, practices, and established theoretical contexts.

1.From globalisation to glocalisation as a new basic paradigm

Before we get to the specific points of contention, we want to start with some more general arguments. We are experiencing a 'changeover of age'. …

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