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date: 19 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Sicilian Cosa Nostra, the Calabrian ’Ndrangheta, and the Neapolitan camorra—in short, southern Italian mafia organizations—are frequently seen as the epitome of organized crime. Unlike other crime groups, they not only engage in profit-making criminal activities but also exercise quasi-political functions in their areas of settlement, heavily influencing local political and economic life. Cosa Nostra and the ’Ndrangheta are also are large-scale and century-old criminal organizations. The chapter singles out four traits that characterize mafia organizations in Italy and distinguish them from other, looser forms of organized crime present in Italy and elsewhere: 1) longevity; 2) organizational and cultural complexity; 3) their claim to exercise a political dominion over their areas of settlement—a claim that has over the decades been at least partially recognized by the local population and parts of the official government; and 4) their ability to control legitimate markets.

Keywords: organized crime, southern Italy, Cosa Nostra, Campania, Sicily, ’Ndrangheta, camorra

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