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"Universalism vs. particularism: a round trip from Sociology to Economics"


Social scientists, in particular sociologists, claim that the distinction between universalistic and particularistic values is relevant to explaining the social behaviour of individuals (and societies). This paper provides preliminary empirical evidence that supports the claim. It first defines a number of proxies for the degree of particularism embedded into long-celebrated dimensions of social behaviour (trust, political awareness, and associational activities). Then, it shows that the particularistic measures are positively correlated to each other and negatively correlated to some established generalist measures for all dimensions of social behaviour considered, both across and within countries and regions. Moreover, the paper relates that the various proxies for particularism share the same set of covariates (such as low education and income), which are neatly distinguishable from the determinants of the generalist measures.

Paolo Sestito
Short bio: 

Paolo Sestito is Director of the Department for Structural Economic Analysis of the Bank of Italy. He graduated in Economics at the University of Naples, and got a MBA ISTAO (Ancona) and a M. Sc. In Economics at the LSE. From 1997 to 1999 Paolo Sestito was Economic Advisor of the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs of the European Commission and, from 2000 to 2006, Economic Advisor of the Italian Minister of Labour. From 2001 through 2006 he has been Chairman of the OECD Working Group on Employment supervising the publication of the yearly OECD Employment Outlook and he has been Chairman of the OECD Employment and Social Affairs Committee between 2006 and 2008. From 2008 to 2013 he was Chairman of the OECD PIAAC (Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies). Paolo Sestito has been also Special Commissioner and President of the INVALSI (2012-13).


18 September 2014 - 14:30

IRVAPP/Fondazione Bruno Kessler - Via Santa Croce 77 - Trento