Several entrepreneurial associations with different characters, programs, organizational forms and territorial extent were established in the aftermath of Italian unification. Their history is still waiting for a deep and systematic study. In this article few associative forms, which contributed to the maturation of common interests among Italian middle classes, are examined. A first association system came from the pre-unification organizational models and did not have as its main purpose the interest representation, but aims of cooperation promotion, of mutual aid for the employees, of technical formation and cultural initiatives, of charity and so on. An example of such a typology was the Italian industrial association whose history is enlightened in this work. A significant change occurred during the 1870s, when the Italian industrialists, of every productive sector, perceived in a clear and generalized way that it was necessary to join together to distinguish their own interests from that of the merchants or of the artisans, to gain political influence, increase their action sphere, influencing parliamentary decisions with precise and detailed proposals. The objective was, since then, to create an Italian general confederation, which could merge all the aggregations which step by step would have founded on a sectorial basis.
Keywords: Associationism, cooperatives, representation, businessmen, postunification period