In the first post-unitary decades, freedom of association favored the birth of a dense network of mutual aid societies, which soon became the pivot around which modern democratic society began to be built. The associationism also in Sicily was the first form of non-elitist association, free from the interference of the State and self-managed workers. In this originality and in the change that caused in the mentality of the adherents, the historical significance of this type of association must be sought. The right of association, the possibility of stable forms of association and the strength of solidarity gave personal dignity to the worker who was transformed from poor into a citizen, from a passive object of charity to an active subject able to plan his own welfare.
Keywords: Sicily, associationism, mutual aid, democracy, representation.