Mafia, State, and Society

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

Mafia, State, and Society

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The development and existence of mafia associations in Sicily and Calabria over the last hundred and fifty years cannot be explained without mentioning the longstanding incapacity of state institutions to guarantee order and public security over wide areas of the Mezzogiorno through the monopoly of force, and thus to gain full legitimacy in the eyes of the local population. Mafia cosche long enjoyed the consensus—or at least, the tolerance—of large strata of the local population, whose cultural codes they repeated and manipulated. Unlike the state, at least up to the 1950s, mafia power thus succeeded in transforming itself into authority. Empowered by popular consensus and the benign neglect of law-enforcement agencies, members of Cosa Nostra and the 'Ndrangheta met with little difficulty in accomplishing their roles as brokers and pursuing their own goals of power and wealth. The deterioration of relations between the mafia and politics is the result of a slow process of delegitimation that has invested mafia power during the whole post-war period, but has recorded a sharp acceleration from the early 1980s onward.

Keywords: Sicily; Calabria; mafia; state; Mezzogiorno; consensus; authority; politics; Cosa Nostra; 'Ndrangheta

Chapter.  19873 words. 

Subjects: Social Theory

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