The Mob

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's August 2001

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Organized crime exists in many countries today, and has for many years. The word "mafia"� is symbolic of organized crime and is a familiar word throughout the world. In Italy, however, the Sicilian Mafia is such an extensive and socially imbedded organization that it practically exists as a separate state. The sociologist Max Weber has studied the Sicilian Mafia extensively, as have many other sociologists. Three areas where Weber and the other sociologists have studied extensively have been the authority within the organization, the necessity of violence within the organization, and justification of violence within the Sicilian organization ("Verstehen: Max Weber's Home Page"�).

The Mafia is rooted deeply in the feudal past of Sicily. Throughout its history, Sicily has been invaded many times. The Arabs invaded it in the ninth century, the Normans in the eleventh century, the French in the twelfth century, the Germans, Spanish, Austrians, and Greeks in the fifteenth century.

Secret societies developed in the hills of Sicily to resist foreign rulers. Sicily's Mafia grew strong in the nineteenth century as a system of administration and justice when the government was providing little administration or justice. When the Allied forces freed Italy in World War II, they freed the anti-Mussolini prisoners, many of who were members of the Mafia. Some of these Mafioso were given positions of power in the Italian government. In this way the Mafia began to combine politics and organized crime in Italy. The Mafia moved out of the hills and into the Sicilian cities (Nicaso and Lamothe 32).

Today the Mafia has three main sources for its vast income: public contracts, drug dealing, and extortion. It relies on fear and violence as its tools (Gambetta).

The origin of the word "mafia"� is not known for certain. There is one story that...