Italy and Greece have one thing in common. Taking a look at their current status in the world may not reveal much; this can only be brought to the surface by taking a journey down a memory lane to a few centuries back. A glance at a few centuries back indicates that they both are home to the most important cultures in history, cultures that have to a great extent shaped the modern world interactions and way of life. In the modern world the both emerge as two nations that are occupy a prominent position in the global affairs.
Italy is located in southern Europe, bordering France and Switzerland to the North. The important cultures that thrived in Italy and that defined civilization in the ancient times are the Romans and the ancient Italy Etruscan civilization. Etruscan refers to the culture that existed in the prehistoric times and stretched over to the foundation of Europe. Roman culture generally refers to a form of a civilization that originated from the Italian peninsula that would later grow and become the Roman Empire with much influence in the Western Europe.
Likewise, Greece has played an important role in influencing today cultural and political systems. It borders countries such as Albanians and Turkey and lies in South Eastern Europe. It lies in a geopolitical strategic place at the tip of Europe, Asia and Africa. It shares a heritage of rich culture that has seen it referred to as the cradle and source of modern civilization. It is this rich culture and history that has played a great role in shaping the modern Greece evidenced today.
The focus of this paper shall be limited to these two important countries, important both in the world history and in modern times as well it shall focus at the comparison and the contrasts that exists between the economic, social and political set up and show those aspects continue to shape the lives individual in these countries.
The modern Greece has a rather short history compared to Italy. Its history dates back to 1821 after the Greeks underwent a period of concerted effort, rebelling against the Ottoman Empire of Germany that led to its official recognition in London. This led to economic, political and social transformations. The creation of the modern Italy dates to the middle ages during the renaissance. Then it was subdivided into city-states that were operating independently. Renaissance refers to a period that would see the rebirth and application of theories and ideas developed by classical theorists and philosophers. These are the likes of Plato, Vitruvius amongst many others.
Like Greece, Italy has its fair share of classical theorists as well as modern rulers full of intrigues and controversies. Example of one modern Italian leader is Benito Mussolini who was in clash with the Greece during the Second World War. After the Second World War Greek was to undergo civil upheavals up to the 1950s where then it started undergoing periods of economic growth. Italian Republic and the modern Greece to a greater extent almost share a similar cultural and political foundation, and so do in other factors. There exists a great correlation between the culture, politics and economics. These two states share culture that is similar in regard to the family, religion, and political systems. This explains their similarities in important social aspects.
Italy is a mystery to many people. It is one of the few countries whose social and cultural background has been dissected over time. Like its counterpart the Greece, the church has influenced Italian social political systems. Centrality of the church has been recognized as a key characteristic of Italy. It has played a great role in shaping and influencing institutions and individuals. Political parties and the church played this great role and influences how people interpret, define and respond to different stimuli in the society. It is these key institutions in additional to the family that have been a source and a basis for unification (Alberto M, 1999).
The Italian society is greatly influenced by the Roman Catholic Church. Majority of Italians subscribe to it. Its influence is not only limited to the social life of the individuals but it has also immense authority on the existing economic and political leadership. Close to 90% of Italians are Catholics, which is mostly as a result of the presence of the head and overseer of the Catholic Church being situated in Italy. This faithful and fanatic following in Italy has ensured that the Catholic Church not only wields spiritual power but also political and is a force to reckon with as far as politics and governance is concerned.
Family and the church coexist together. What is likely to affect the church will also to a certain extent influence the established family life. Roman Catholic emerges as one very conservative institution that is not quick to respond to the dynamics of the ever-volatile modern culture. This characteristic later trickles down to the family life. Conservations exhibited in the family life defines the dominant political culture in Italy and has seen the Italy as a country continue to enjoy long moments of political stability.
Likewise in Greece, the centrality of religion is also recognized. It is stipulated in the Greek constitution that the Greek Orthodox Church is the predominant domination; the same constitution just like the Italian constitution, grants and ensures the freedom of worship as one of the fundamental rights. The church in Greece too plays a monumental role in shaping the social structures in Greece. However, unlike the Catholic Church in Italy that makes the society to be more closed to cultural changes, Greek culture is more robust and people are open to changes and other cultural norms (Dimitiris C, 2004).
In spite of this openness, there are key factors in the society culture that are yet to change. Gender differentiations and societal ascribed role is one of them. Despite the legislations put forth by the government, the Greek society remains aloof to these changes. Equality in the various aspects of life like in the employment field has not been embraced. Huge disparities still exist and people are still stuck to the traditional set ups and way of thinking. Women still do not participate in employment and still play their traditional role in the society. This has been largely blamed on the age of most of the Greeks population, which as observers note, is aging rapidly and contributes to the closeness exhibited in the society. This is in a sharp contrast to Italy as far as women participation both in the societal and political roles is concerned. Women in Italy play a considerable role in positions of leadership even in the high and influential positions in the political ladder (Yannis B, 2003).
A look at the political organization of Greek reveals that it is a parliamentary democracy headed by an elected president. There is also a prime minister appointed by the president and who wields a considerable amount of power. This was after a change in the constitution in 1986 through a parliamentary amendment that saw the powers of the president chipped. Before the 1960s, the Greece was undergoing a period of political upheavals and civil unrests. However the recent trend has pointed to a moment of political stability.
Likewise in Italy, the political system is characterized by the existence of both a president and a prime minister. The parliament is bicameral with a senate and a chamber of deputies. However, unlike in Greece the president still remains residual powers and appoints key members to the cabinet including the prime minister. They wield much political and constitutional power more than the president in Greece (Till W.B, 2004).
Economically, according to the GDP, Italy is better placed in the international ratings better than Greece. It is the seventh largest in the world according to the GDP but is among the best in Europe. It has a capitalistic economy that is largely boosted by the manufacturing industry. It is among the pioneers of the European union. The government has been playing a big role of late to ensure that it competes on an equal footing with the Europeans economic powerhouses.
Compared to Italy the Greece economy is modest and currently ranks at 22 in the world. Unlike the Italian economy that largely relies on manufacturing, Greece’s economy is more diversified and solidly supported b the shipping, tourism and construction industry in addition to the manufacturing in intense period of rapid growth due to stringent measures that the government has partaken. It is also a capitalist based economy with minimal cases of government interventions.
Both Greece and Italy are similar in many aspects. They have a rich history that has played an eminent role in shaping of the modern culture. Their social organization and orientation also displays similar traits mostly emanating from the centrality of the religion in both the political and cultural scenes. Their economy, although not equal in terms of strength, is relatively stable as a result of the stability that has been experienced in the political governance. It is this economic excellence that has seen them occupy influential positions in world matters.
Culture defines the way people relate with each other and also with the environment. It dictates the similarities and difference that exists amongst individuals and how those differences or similarities sometimes forms the basis of integration or conflicts. Culture at an individual level shapes personalities by dictating the attitudes and behaviors that people have towards various topics and issues. Cultures both in Greece and Italy have evolved over time. A close analysis reveals that however that it has maintained some of its origin traits.
As noted before, religion plays a central role in Italy and dictates relations in the public and family life. This centrality of religion emanates from the fact that Vatican is situated in the heart of Italy. Personal relations are defined so much by this influence from the church. Italians demonstrate a high level of discipline in what they do. Respect is accorded in accordance to the age status of an individual. Young people for example have been brought up and taught to show great respect to their elders to a point that the young will stand up whenever a person who is more advanced in age enters into a room. The behavior has been entrenched deep into the Italian culture and is even publicly propagated for.
Italians come out as very affectionate people and this affection for each other is even displayed even in the public. Whereas people greet each other through handshakes, it is not rare to see people kissing on the cheeks to après affection. It is also a common scene to see people walking hand in hand. The Catholic Church advocates for strong family ties, this has been seen over time down the years. The Catholics doctrines are against many of the practices seen today and have shaped people thoughts and practices into conservatism. Personal choices, tastes and preferences are shaped by these teachings.
Italian culture has a legacy of advocating for family ties and recognizes paternalistic structure. Although women are also strong minded. Men in the Italian culture come out as strong and wielding much influence in the society. Issues like divorce are not prevalent due to the influence of the Roman Catholic culture. A look at many countries in Europe indicates that divorce rate is prevalent in Italy than in the rest of the countries like England.
The Greek culture has had a great impact on the personal lives of its people. It has been able to influence many factors ranging form marriages, employment, and kinship among many others. Same to Italy, the church also plays a role in shaping personal attitudes and norms, this has been so over time Greeks are so religious and abide by the rules of the church Important rites are carried out in an individuals life to mark rites of passage. These range from sacraments, baptism among others.
Marriage is an important event in people’s lives and has been greatly recognized by the Greek culture. Greeks largely recognize monogamy and individuals have mostly been known to wed in churches. Families are close knit and mostly live in the same neighborhood. This culture has over time dictated the right etiquette expected to individuals in the society. They have been known to engage in group activities and are highly social. They have a lot of social gatherings and rites that are meant to play a role of relaxing the mind. This is done especially when they pay tribute to the saints they are named after. Such days are characterized by hospitality and generosity. This has been noted as one major strength of the Greek culture has over time advocated for virtues such as honesty, integrity and generosity they are seen as forming the foundation and basis for relations in the society take place.
Like in the Italian culture, Greek society is also highly paternalistic. A look at the Greek culture demonstrates that men have been over time allocated important and powerful roles in the society, this arises because the Greek culture recognizes men as the leaders in the family while limiting women to family level chores. Gender role differentiations are to the disfavor of women although recent trends indicate that this is fast coming to pass. This is what determines interpersonal relations the society between both genders.
Italy and Greece are home to the best and oldest institutions in the medieval times. They are also home to a large number of renowned early philosophers and theorists. These philosophers and their great works introduced into both these countries a culture of education and critical thinking. These philosophies also inculcated ethics in all that humans do especially in the important professions. They were the pioneers in the professions such as medicine and architecture and their ideas are still in operation up to date.
Culture influences a great deal of human interactions as passed from one generation to the next. A look at these both cultures shows that they have had a great deal in integrity and honesty. The philosophies passed over time indicate that they valued actions that were meant to pursue the greater good in the society. This hence has had a long term felt impact on professions. Both Greek and Italian cultures have a great insistence on professionalism. Individuals have over time been expected to display the highest and strictest level of discipline possible (Yannis B, 2003).
Both these countries history are endowed with innovations and inventions that have come to shape a number of professional. The ancient Greece is recognized as having made major studies in contributing the development and growth of medicine as a profession, a contribution equal to Egypt. For example, the works of philosophers such as Hipppocrates give birth to ideas that are major foundations of modern medicine. Italian culture and history has also contributed much to the development of architecture as a profession. Greece too is home to amazing architectural design that has received years of admiration. Ancient buildings and structures in Greece are a testimony to this.
These cultures gave birth to these professions but hey also dictated on how the individuals in these profession ought to live. In the medieval period work was viewed as service to man, the early theorists too thought that the important professions like medicine were supposed to pursue and ensure the common good of men and hence the professionals in such a field should inculcate this in their lives. History and culture of Greece and Italy has impacted greatly on professionals such as public administration, law and medicine. These professions are meant to be at the service of the public (Till W.B, 2004).
A look at the Greek and Italian immigrants for example in the united states indicates that since their immigration in the 1850s these communities have made major strides and established themselves in businesses and accomplished more than some other communities have been able to. This emanates from a high level of professional ethics inculcated in the both cultures. This is ironical considering the earlier theorists such as Plato had a negative when it came to work. To Plato only the low in the society were supposed to work. This however has currently changed It has great insistence on hard work as key to success and should be a source of great pride. A look at those both cultures and histories indicate that there are more pronounced similarities than differences. It also shows how history and culture have a bearing on the general outcome of a people shaping what they believe in and the nature of the interaction. These cultures in the long run end up impacting not only on social interactions but also on professional relations.
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Dimitiris Charalambis, Laura Marathon- Alipranti and Andromachi Hadjiyanni, 2004. Recent social trends in Greece 1960-2000. Mc Gill Queens University Press
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Aristides N. Hatzis, 2001. Modern Greek society, economy and polity: Greece in a nutshell. Retrieved on 17/10/07 from: http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/world/greececor3.htm
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