This paper presents the results of a survey regarding social construction of legality and based on the representations of local élites (politicians, entrepreneurs, civil servants, managers of the public health sector) in Italian regions (Lombardia, Toscana, Lazio, Calabria, Sicilia). The analysis concerns neopatrimonial tendencies, explored through illegal practices entailing personal use of public and private administrations’ resources by power positions’ holders. The paper shows evidence of the comparison between the private and the public sector and it puts attention to the different categories of interviewees. All considered behaviours are oriented towards illegality, but in some cases they are expressed in terms of crimes and illicit conducts, in others they refers to cultures and practices of manipulation. This distinction permits to highlight similarities and differences among Italian regions. Furthermore the analysis takes into consideration individual and institutional strategies contrasting illegality and private use of public resources.
Keywords: Legality, neopatrimonialism, power, personalization, public sector, private sector