Marginality and local development in Sicily

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Marginality should be seen as an asset rather than a liability for a community. What does it mean to be marginal? For many people to be marginal means not to be at the center of anything; not to be used as a benchmark or standard for success, power, beauty, or abundance. There is another meaning of marginality, however, one that attaches great importance to the differences between individuals and societies. The question of marginality is not just a theoretical one, but also an institutional one. The method is to focus on specific institutional settings in order to show the importance of marginality in how we define our economic choices. This paper analyzes the economic and geographical marginality in Sicily. Each area requires its own model of development. In Italy, in fact, there are large gaps between the richest areas of the country and the South. The aim of the paper is to show how a marginal region like Sicily, a leader in organic production in Italy, confirms the need to look at regional and local development in a different way. Plan of this paper is to show how natural resources as exploitation of organic farming and the creation of parks can contribute to the economic development of marginal areas such as Sicily. The diffusion of the organic food consumption is a growing phenomenon, so it should be analyzed to evaluate the benefits and potential for development. According to IFOAM, International Foundation for Organic Agriculture, there is a distinct link between agriculture, rural development and organic products. The organic products reflect an overall management system of production based on the use of both scientific and traditional knowledge. In addition to environmental benefits, the growth of the organic sector reveals new employment opportunities in agriculture, processing and related services, bringing significant economic benefits and social cohesion in rural areas This paper suggests that rather than jumping on the bandwagon of globalization and rushing to conform to an abstract and monetary standard of success, we should embrace and defend local or marginal paths of economic development. The future of economic development may well lie at the margins of what global markets or multinational corporations insist “pays.” The economic pattern of buying and selling fish in Palermo’s Vucciria local market, for instance, simply will not work at one of Wal-Mart’s super grocery stores, where the customer is offered an unbelievable variety and amount of largely frozen seafood, caught from who knows where, and delivered to the local store through the use of some complex logarithm. The question is not which of these solutions for getting fish on our tables for tonight’s dinner is the best, but how might we learn from “marginal” institutions, like the Vucciria, the benefits of local food economies. This paper invites us to search for definitions of wealth more humane than mere financial measures of it
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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