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The Italian State, the Catholic Church and Women

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Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements book series (PSHSM)

Abstract

When Italy underwent immense social, economic and political transformations in the early part of the twentieth century, the material rewards of the modernization process were unevenly distributed, just as the unification of Italy previously had brought very few benefits, if any, to the majority of the population. The one group which, in particular, saw no improvement to its condition was women, as they continued to be discriminated against by limited access to education and employment, unequal treatment under the law and disenfranchisement. The Catholic Church, the only truly unifying element of the country at the time of Unification, had become a bitter enemy of the Italian State after losing its temporal power. In these circumstances, women and their organizations proved crucial to the Church in dealing with its perceived adversaries: the State, the political left and modern society. To appreciate fully the social and political role which the Catholic women’s movements played in this period, it is necessary to examine their contemporary context. With this objective, Section I explores the broad setting of post-Unification Italy and the troubled path of Church-State relations, and Section II looks more specifically at women’s position in Italian society from the Risorgimento to World War II.

Keywords

Civil Code Italian Woman Royal Decree Liberal Government Temporal Power 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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© Helena Dawes 2014

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