Beyond the Mafia mentality: human development and relational goods.

Antonino Giorgi


Modern economics literature with a relational orientation shows that the results of sustainable economic growth, as well as other important variables, are significantly connected to the quality of interpersonal relations (Bruni, 2006; Sacco & Zamagni, 2006). This means, among other things, that economic development can no longer be considered independent of the develoment of people, of their subjectivity and their reciprocal recognition.  It means arguing that the relationship with the Other person, the quality of relationships, is not only indispensable for the construction of identity or for psychological treatment (Lo Verso & Lo Coco, 2006), but it is also an important transformational tool capable of bringing about social change (Brown & Zinkin, 1996) and influencing/steering economic development in one direction rather than another. 
For a long time, and not only in western countries, socio-economic growth has increasingly coincided with the category of “Homo Economicus” in its most extreme version: that is, the aim of getting rich at any cost, the drive to treat others as merchandise, and individualism taken to extremes. In Sicily, in particular, “Homo Economicus” seems to find it quite easy to find connections for business and other purposes both with the criminal organization ‘Cosa Nostra’ and with a widespread and specific way of viewing reality and relations with others, which can be identified with the “Mafia mentality” (Fiore, 1997). Some national statistics, in fact, indicate Sicily as one of the most classical negative models due to the combination of organized crime with the lag in socio-economic growth. What contributes significantly to causing this lag is not only the fact that the categories of “Homo Economicus”, “Homo Mafioso” and “Homo Democristianus” share business, tenders and money, historical inefficiencies and power, but also, from a psychological viewpoint, the problem of the denial of the existence of the Other as subjectivity. 
This article sets out to make a psychodynamic contribution which, placing emphasis on the closeness between modern attempts at relational economic theory (Sacco & Zamagni, 2006; Bruni, 2006; Bruni & La Porta, 2006; Bruni & Zamagni, 2004) and some assumptions of subjectual group-analysis (Lo Verso, 1994; Pontalti, 1998; Fasolo, 2002; Lo Verso & Lo Coco, 2006;) and limiting the discussion to the analysis of “Homo Mafioso” and “Homo Democristianus”, will try to elaborate the concept of relational goods (Brunori, 2004; Lo Verso & Prestano, 2006), exemplifying its importance in a local human development programme in Sicily.

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Rivista di Psicologia Clinica. Teoria e metodi dell'intervento

Rivista Telematica a Carattere Scientifico Registrazione presso il Tribunale civile di Roma (n.149/2006 del 17/03/2006)

ISSN 1828-9363