Mafia Brotherhoods: Organized Crime, Italian Style (Studies in Crime and Public Policy)

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9780195157246: Mafia Brotherhoods: Organized Crime, Italian Style (Studies in Crime and Public Policy)

Secrecy is one of the defining characteristics of the Italian Mafia. Wiretaps, financial records, and the rare informant occasionally reveal its inner workings, but these impressions are all too often spotty and fleeting, hampering serious scholarship on this major form of criminal activity.
During her years as a consultant to the Italian government agency responsible for combating organized crime, Letizia Paoli was given unparalleled insider access to the confessions by pentiti (literally, repentants), former Mafia operatives who had turned. This mafia "hard core" came primarily from the two largest and most influential Southern Italian mafia associations, known as Cosa Nostra and 'Ndrangheta, each composed of about one hundred mafia families. The sheer volume of these confessions, numbering in the hundreds, and the detail they contained, enabled the Italian government to effectively break up the Italian mafia in one of the dramatic law enforcement successes in modern times. It is on these same documents that Paoli draws to provide a clinically accurate portrait of mafia behavior, motivations, and structure.
Puncturing academic notions of a modernized Mafia, Paoli argues that to view mafia associations as bureaucracies, illegal enterprises, or an industry specializing in private protection, is overly simplistic and often inaccurate. These conceptions do not adequately describe the range of functions in which the mafia engages, nor do they hint at the mafia's limitations. The mafia, Paoli demonstrates are essentially multifunctional ritual brotherhoods focused above all on retaining and consolidating their local political power base. It is precisely this myopia that has prevented these organizations from developing the skills needed to be a successful and lasting player in the entrepreneurial world of illegal global commerce.
A truly interdisciplinary work of history, politics, economics, and sociology, Mafia Brotherhoods reveals in dramatic detail the true face of one of the world's most mythologized criminal organizations.

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About the Author:


Letizia Paoli is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Criminology of the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg, Germany and lecturer at the Department of Sociology of the Constance University, Germany.

Language Notes:

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Italian

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