Cultural warfare and trust

Fighting the Mafia in Palermo

This book concentrates on a central issue in research on democratic processes: the development of generalised trust. The existence of generalised trust and confidence in a society is decisive for economic development and an effective democracy. Is it possible to fight persistent values of distrust and non-cooperation? Is it possible to support the development of generalised trust through public action and education? The book addresses these questions by examining political efforts to combat Palermo's Mafia-controlled heritage and to turn a tradition of non-cooperation and distrust into cooperation and trust. In particular, it focuses on the school program launched by Leoluca Orlando, Mayor of Palermo, during the mid-1990s, which was designed to break the Mafia's territorial and mental control, to restore citizens' rights and to promote a civic consciousness based on the rule of law. Combining theories on social capital and civic education, the book presents and analyses quantitative and qualitative research carried out in seven public schools in Palermo, some situated in extremely difficult areas dominated by drugs, violence and organised crime.

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