Italian-American Culture – Part 2
Our second addition to Italian-American culture continues from the 1950s & 1960s when rather unflattering cultural stereotypes still exist in American society. All Italian-Americans condemned such negativity, and one piece of research by an American medical survey supported the Italian-American way of life stating that the community had a lower than average rate of heart disease. Rather than citing the Mediterranean diet for this medical breakthrough, the survey went on to explain that it could be the result of social cohesion based on the culture of large Italian families and the guidance of the Catholic church.
Years later, an identical piece of research returned to the same town, and this time the results were quite startling as Italian-Americans no longer had low results, they were the same as any other resident of Roseto. This pointed out a relevant fact, and that was the older generation of Italian-Americans had aged and the power of the family had waned. The younger Italian-American generation were now moving out of their close-knit communities and away from the family.
The New Generation
Younger Italian-Americans were now keen to benefit from the American dream, and as they progressed in better work opportunities, they wanted to reap the rewards. Many young Italian-Americans moved from traditional neighborhoods to areas with large houses. Some of the modern-day Italian-Americans feel like this acceptance of the American Dream has left them devoid of the pleasures of a much simpler past and the old neighborhoods. Even though they do accept that these old neighborhoods were problematic.
Italian-Americans were now being assimilated fully into the wider American society and becoming part of American culture. But assimilation has more connotations than simply giving up a language, it means to accept a new way of life and learning to live in a society that is pluralistic. Genealogy has always been the way that Americans have tried to find out who they really are. Following family trees and then returning to their homelands to try and get more information. There are modern ways to do this now on the internet, and you can even get access to the Ellis Island website to see information of immigrant arrivals.
Some modern-day Italian-Americans are fanatical about finding out about the past and old cultures, and they are turning back to Italy to reassure themselves of the fact they are in full possession of all the knowledge of who they really are. One of the reasons the older generations of Italian-Americans did not look back was they had come to the conclusion there was no future for them in their homeland.
As Italian-Americans are looking back on the past and rediscovering Italy, new immigrants are settling in America. They too are making new lives for themselves just like the first Italian immigrants of the 1800’s. The new immigrants are also trying to be accepted in this new world but not quite wholeheartedly giving up the traditions and culture of their past. However, these new immigrants face different challenges in this modern world and as such they cannot hold up the assimilation of the early Italian immigrants as a road map.