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NCJ Number: 157950 Find in a Library
Title: What Is a Mafia? Attempted Definition of Mafias
Journal: Revue de Science Criminelle et de Droit Penal Compare  Issue:2  Dated:(April-June 1995)  Pages:281-299
Author(s): T Cretin
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 18
Sponsoring Agency: Centre Francais de Criminologie
Paris 75007,, France
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: French
Country: France
Annotation: The article determines typical characteristics of organized crime families as opposed to ordinary crime or gang activities.
Abstract: Mafia members are distinguished from ordinary criminals by their faithfulness to their "crime family," their distinct sense of honor, the cultural significance of death in initiation rites and member behavior, and their relation to the government as a parallel (rather than antagonistic) source of power. Numerous mafias thrive on and recruit their members from economically deprived areas. To strengthen adherence to the family, mafias (such as Cosa Nostra or the Chinese Triads) also tend to foster founder myths, i.e., elaborate stories of how their family came into being. To reach their goals, mafias tend to rely on one more of the following methods: violence, influence peddling among politicians, and corruption. Common crime areas include gambling, exploiting prostitution, extortion and racketeering, drug trafficking, and (most recently) diversion of public funds. While gangs and ordinary crime rings are usually destroyed by the arrest of their leader, mafias continue to exist as social structures independent of human beings. 24 references
Main Term(s): Gangs
Index Term(s): Mob infiltration; Organized crime; Organized crime prevention
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