Poveri Ma Belli: Meanings of money in Italy and in Switzerland

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The purpose of this article is to explore the cultural meanings of money in Italy and in Switzerland - money not as currency or economic exchange but as social communication. The authors sought to discover meanings of money in social traditions and popular culture by examining folk literature and by interviewing a small sample of Italian and Swiss people. They found that Italians and Swiss approach money from opposite perspectives: To the Swiss, money is obtained through cunning and often hard mental work, and the goal is to accumulate, not to spend it; in Italy, money has to be earned with hard, often physical work and immediately be spent. The Swiss personify the "analytic" trait; they save money and are opposed to consuming and sharing. The Italians exhibit the "expressive" trait; they spend money freely, for themselves and for friends. They also work hard and save some to better spend later.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-271
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2001

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