Donna I found some additional information about civili-the plural of the word "civile"-this is from a book called Widows in White written by a Professor Linda Reeder- she is talking in her book about Sicily-p. 30
she says that, after the abolishment of feudalism in the early 1800s, there was a land reform law which was supposed to erase the traditional privileges of the church and aristocracy by demanding the privitzation of all feudal lands. This law was thus supposed to lead to the breaking up of the large estates known as latifundia, but what it did instead was create more large estates and a new class of landowners called civili (the plural of the word civile), who belonged to growing entrepreneurial and professional groups. Originally this land reform law intended this land to be for the sharecroppers and day laborers, but they remained landless.
e - thank you very much for taking the time to cite this reference. i will look for it at the local library. the book sounds very interesting.
looking over my catalogue of ancestor records, and as i figure out who is related to whom and how, i am observing these levels of land ownership and management (massare/o)and then the farmers / workers - agricoltare & contadino and how the position might be related to age of the male.
Donna I doubt your local public library will carry a copy of this book Widows in White. This is a book which probably can be found in a university or college library. You can read sections of it though on google books online at the link below.
I was reading another source earlier today and this author(Dr Nicholas La Bianca) said that proprietari (plural of proprietario) were small landowners who worked their own fields as opposed to contadini who were peasants who worked in the fields for wages.