Letizia Paoli

in Mafia Brotherhoods

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780195157246
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199943982 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Crime and Public Policy


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The Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta have been singled out as Italy's largest and most powerful mafia associations. The mafiosi's illegal businesses and their infiltration in legitimate industries have been targeted by criminal investigations. Analysis of the defectors' testimonies, criminal cases, and other sources shows many analogies between the most lasting and successful Italian American mafia association, Cosa Nostra, and its southern Italian counterparts, particularly the Sicilian Cosa Nostra. Just like the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, America's largest and most powerful mafia association is a loose confederation of mafia families that mutually recognize each other but are independent on most issues. The two organizations, however, differ in their internal organization and activities and their relationship with underworld competitors, civil society, politicians, and law enforcement. Cosa Nostra and the 'Ndrangheta resort systematically to violence and secrecy to defend themselves from state repression and to pursue their aims. In addition, they have a plurality of functions within their social environment.

Keywords: Cosa Nostra; 'Ndrangheta; mafia; Italy; violence; secrecy; mafia families; civil society; defectors; law enforcement

Chapter.  9598 words. 

Subjects: Social Theory

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