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Unequal Friendship

The Patron-Client Relationship in Historical Perspective

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Antoni Mączak

This book analyzes the patron-client relationship over both space and time. It covers such areas of the globe as Europe, Africa and Latin America, and such periods in time as ancient Rome, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Poland, as well as twentieth-century America. It also analyzes clientelism in U.S. policy toward the Vietnam War and in Richard J. Daley’s mayoral rule over Chicago. In his comparative approach the author makes broad use of theories from such fields as history, sociology, anthropology and linguistics while considering the global scale of the patron-client relationship and the immense role that clientelism has played in world history.

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Chapter 7: The Mediterranean Lands

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And now I want to turn my attention to a region that is both traditional and classical, the fatherland of many of the issues discussed in this book and the source of practically our entire vocabulary on the topic.514 It is also a region that is aware of its past. In the tradition of Sicily – its folk tradition and its scholarly tradition – peculiar kinds of social bonds are connected with thousands of years of turbulent history, with the defense of the island’s identity in the face of constant invasions from all sides. In Italy, academic interest in these issues dates back to the last third of the nineteenth century. The first works in the field of informal social relationships in small communities (including a doctoral dissertation), some of which are now regarded as classics, involved Epirus, Andalusia, and of course Sicily.515

When viewed from a distant perspective – whether from the Polish perspective or from that of the most developed nations of Europe – the Mediterranean appears relatively uniform. But in fact every country there is distinct and divided into smaller regions that are diverse both economically and culturally.516 Not only the Islamic countries but also Greece, Italy and Spain have long included lands with various levels of development and distinctive culture features. Significantly, “development” and “backwardness” (both terms are very imprecisely defined) both moved freely from one region to another. While Andalusia during its Arab times was regarded as heaven on earth, Catalonia did not blossom until...

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