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NCJ Number: 222522 Find in a Library
Title: Living on the Edge in an Ancient Imperial World: Aztec Crime and Deviance
Journal: Global Crime  Volume:9  Issue:1-2  Dated:February-May 2008  Pages:20-34
Author(s): Frances Berdan
Date Published: February 2008
Page Count: 15
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article explores the opportunities for and presence of crime and deviance in the Aztec Empire (1428-1521), along with the manner in which Aztec institutions and powerful individuals dealt with crime and deviance.
Abstract: Clearly, many individuals in Aztec society pursued illegal activities, but for the most part, the Aztec world was not structured to encourage collective, organized criminal activity. Every individual was linked to a particular city-state, social status, occupational group, and ethnic identity. One's position in society was tightly controlled, with visible symbols identifying an individual's place and role in complex networks. There was little room for relatively large numbers of individuals to operate in partnership outside this system for any period of time. If organized crime is defined as collective continuity with an internal hierarchy for the pursuit of power and profit by illegal means outside traditional economic and legal parameters, then Aztec society's tightly defined, visible pathways for individual socioeconomic status were not fertile ground for organized crime. The group that most closely approximated the definition of organized crime was the professional merchants. They operated under their own internal hierarchy, developed their own system of ethics and sanctions for violators, pursued power for profit, and constituted an ongoing socioeconomic enterprise. They did work on the edge of broader legal limits in the course of ambitious economic dealings, but they still confined their activities to accepted traditions of mainstream Aztec society. This was because they gained advantage by catering to wealthy consumers who were the pillars of Aztec society. 48 notes
Main Term(s): Organized crime; South America
Index Term(s): Criminology; Economic influences; Organized crime causes; Social conditions
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