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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This book has shown that Cosa Nostra and the 'Ndrangheta are secret and multifunctional brotherhoods each composed of about a hundred units. Though these are usually called families by their members, they are clearly distinct from the latter's blood families. They rely instead on bonds of artificial kinship created through the ceremony of initiation of new members. Exploiting secrecy and violence, the families of Cosa Nostra and the 'Ndrangheta have traditionally employed the strength of mafia bonds to pursue a plurality of goals and to carry out numerous different functions, so much so that it is impossible to identify any one who is exclusive. The cosche are neither economic enterprises aiming at the maximization of profits nor an industry for private protection. Cosa Nostra and the 'Ndrangheta cannot be considered a universally valid ideal type of organized crime if it is understood as the provision of illegal goods and services.

Keywords: Cosa Nostra; 'Ndrangheta; violence; secrecy; cosche; profits; organized crime; blood families; artificial kinship; initiation

Chapter.  3379 words. 

Subjects: Social Theory

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