The role of the family in Italy has always been judged ambivalently. In the late 1950s the American sociologist Edward Banfield notoriously criticized the ‘amoral familism’ he noted amongst peasants in the South, their inability to transcend their immediate interests for the wider good of the community. Other sociologists and anthropologists have similarly regarded the traditional, individualistic structures of the Italian family as inimical to social and economic progress. Catholic ideology in the new united Italy also set the family in opposition to the collective, a view hardly surprising given parlous church-state relations. Later, the family was, in the Catholic view, to be the bulwark against the rising tide of communism.