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The Italian identity is one of the main debated issues in Italy at present. Created by the historians Gian Enrico Rusconi and Ernesto Galli Della Loggia in the 1990s, the problem is still very discussed nowadays.
The Italian Unification happened relatively late compared to other large western European nations. After having been the Kingdom of Italy for nearly one century (1860–1946), it became the Italian Republic in 1946. This very recent development of the Italian democracy (only a bit more than half a century) has been regarded[by whom?] as a sign of backwardness. The Italian political identity is therefore very weak and there is not a political system generally accepted. The polemics between monarchists and republicans, fascists and antifascists, Christian democrats and communists reveal a very divided country, with strong political feelings, but without a common background.
Many believe that all Italians come from the same ethnic group with a common Italian ethnic identity starting in the Middle Ages starting with Italian speaking élites. However, since unification there have been tensions between northerners and southerners both in diaspora as well as within Italy. Due to a complex history many have instead developed a sense of municipal, regional or linguistic rather than national identity. Italians often may identify themselves more as a citizen of his particular city rather than as a citizen of Italy. Conflicts among the different identities remain very strong, as proved by the strong football rivalries which can be traced from the history of its Medieval city-states.
One of the main principles of national unity has often been considered the Christian religion, because Italy has been Christian since the settlement of the Papal States in Rome. Many Italians, however, would not recognize themselves as Christian. Especially during the Risorgimento, in the 19th Century, the birth of the nation was linked to popular revolutions, such as the American revolution and the French revolution.
- Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (ed.), The invention of tradition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984
- Aldo Schiavone, Italiani senza Italia, Torino: Einaudi, 1998
- Remo Bodei, Il Noi diviso, Torino: Einaudi, 1998
- Ernesto Galli della Loggia, L'identità italiana, Bologna: il Mulino, 1998
- Guido Crainz, Il paese mancato : dal miracolo economico agli anni Ottanta, Roma: Donzelli, 2003
- Stefano Jossa, L'Italia letteraria, Bologna: il Mulino, 2006