Italian Family Hierarchy

Italian society, like many other cultures in the world is a very family oriented society wherein many generations often live together in one house.  All family members including parents, grandparents, children and their relatives gather together and enjoy their meals with one another.  They love each other, spend holidays and festivals together and are also often involved in family businesses which go on for generations.

Italian families generally follow a hierarchy structure according to which a certain family member is placed at the top and takes the major decisions while others fall underneath him. To understand Italian family hierarchy better, you can read the following given information:

italian family hierarchyPower Authority Structure

Typically, most Italian families follow a power authority structure.  The power is distributed among the different members of the family in a hierarchical manner.  The family member who is the most powerful comes at the top of the hierarchical pyramid while those who are less powerful are at the bottom of the tree.  In such families, children stay at home longer than western nations.  After the son gets married, he may live with his wife along with the father or somewhere nearby.

Decision Making Structure

Parents in Italian families follow an authoritarian attitude as far as making decisions for the children is concerned.  This is to re-insure that it is the most powerful member of the family who will make all the decisions.  The oldest male or the oldest couple of the family make may most of the decisions for the family including financial decisions, social decisions and others.

Oldest Couple

The oldest couple of the family holds the maximum responsibility and power in the hierarchical structure of Italian families. The oldest couple decides what is good for the rest of the family and then makes rules which others have to follow.

Second Couple

The second couple or the son and daughter in law of the oldest couple comes next in the hierarchical structure of an Italian family and are responsible for seeing that day to day tasks are run smoothly in the family. They are responsible for education of the children and may live with the oldest couple in the same house to look after their needs as well.


The children of the second couple come third in the hierarchical structure and have either no or little say in important matters.

Other Relatives

The daughter and son in law of the oldest couple too may sometimes be part of the extended family and may take part in some of its decisions etc.