Sociology of Organized Crime

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide students with the cognitive and interpretative bases of the main phenomena of organized crime, with particular (but not exclusive) reference to the Italian experience.In its first part it aims to define the fundamental models of mafia organization and to clarify the common denominators, deepening the mechanisms of expansion of mafia outside the traditional boundaries, also in international projection, according to political, economic, social, cultural, demographic factors.
In its second parte the course aims to explain mafia criminal organizations as organizations oriented to a specific combination of power and profit and based on specific values and associative links, able to impose themselves even outside the original areas. The models and categories of economic and organizational science are thus used to their analysis: structure, strategy, resources, territory, motivations, culture, borders, environmental relations, leadership, innovation, networks.
The aim is to offer students both clear and grounded basic knowledge of the Mafia phenomenon and the theoretical tools necessary to grasp its dynamics within social transformations and to correlate them with the broader context of reference.
Expected learning outcomes
-Knowledge and understanding of the nature and social quality of the Mafia phenomenon, of its reasons of strength and its expansive potential. In particular, the teaching tends to encourage a comparative approach between the different concrete forms of the Mafia phenomenon.
- The ability to apply knowledge and understanding are developed above all in terms of recognition of the Mafia phenomenon in its criminal, economic, but also cultural and linguistic manifestations.
- Critical and judgment skills are promoted especiallyl in relation to the most common stereotypes about the identity and causes of the Mafia phenomenon, through specific classroom discussions and the comparison with selected testimonies, as well as through the offer of integrative didactic experiences (in particularly the so-called itinerant university, that is, visits to places significantly characterized by the mafia presence).
-The ability to communicate what has been learned is promoted both through the performance of voluntary written tests (reflections or stories of current events) and through the performance of the final tests exclusively in oral form; but also through the offer of integrative opportunities (journalism workshop, participation in writing theater texts, articles on sites, voluntary involvement in meetings in schools)
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Third trimester
Course syllabus
The first part of the course has a literacy function. It deals with the main Italian mafia organizations, their differences and their common denominator.
It compares in depth the sociological definition and the legal definition of the mafia model. It defines the most important historical periodizations of the Mafia phenomenon, indicating the elements of continuity and transformation, as well as the logics of expansion outside the areas of origin, even abroad. In this context the concept of colonization is introduced and explained.
The second part widens the analytical horizons drawing on economic and organizational sociology. The role and specificities of the mafia company, the figures of the entrepreneur-mafia and the mafioso-entrepreneur, the meeting between legal economy and illegal economy, are thus treated in the context of a critical discussion on the "modernity" of the mafia. Finally, space is given to the historical-social forms of the antimafia and to the birth of the "anti-mafia" enterprise.
Prerequisites for admission
There are no particular prerequisites. The studies of general sociology and economic sociology, as well as those of contemporary history, however, constitute a useful basis for systematic training.
Teaching methods
Lessons, supplemented by testimonials and by the presentation / discussion of the most important research results obtained in the current year by the teacher and his collaborators. The course also includes further laboratory and itinerant university experiences, subject to separate recognition of training credits.
Teaching Resources
For the first part one of the following choices:1) F. Barbagallo, Storia della camorra, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2010; 2) E. Ciconte, 'Ndrangheta, Rubbettino, Soveria Mannelli, 2011, and G. Pignatone e M. Prestipino, Il contagio, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2012; 3) N. dalla Chiesa, Contro la mafia, Einaudi, Torino, 2010; or Passaggio a Nord. La colonizzazione mafiosa, Edizioni Gruppo Abele, 2016; 4) S. Lupo, La mafia. Centosessant'anni di storia, Donzelli, Roma, 2018. For the second part one of the following choices: 1) N. dalla Chiesa, L'impresa mafiosa, Cavallotti University Press, Milano, 2012; 2) R. Sciarrone, Mafie vecchie, mafie nuove, Donzelli, Roma, 2009; 3) M. Catino, Le organizzazioni mafiose, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2020
It is also recommended one of the following critical readings. On the mafia phenomenon: N. dalla Chiesa, Manifesto dell'Antimafia, Einaudi, Torino, 2014; N. dalla Chiesa e F. Cabras, Rosso mafia. La 'ndrangheta a Reggio Emilia, Bompiani, Milano, 2019; A. Dino, La mafia devota, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2008; G. Falcone, Cose di Cosa Nostra, Rizzoli, Milano, 1991 (with M. Padovani); F. Forgione, Mafia Export, Dalai, Milano, 2009; O. Ingrascì, Donne d'onore, Bruno Mondadori, Milano, 2007; G. Pignatone e M. Prestipino, Modelli criminali. Mafie di ieri e di oggi, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2019.
On antimafia movement: U. Santino, Storia del movimento antimafia, Editori Riuniti Univ. Press, Roma, 2010; N. dalla Chiesa (con L. Ioppolo, M. Mazzeo e M. Panzarasa), La scelta Libera. Giovani nel movimento antimafia, Edizioni Gruppo Abele, Torino, 2014.
For consultations: M. Mareso e L. Pepino (a cura di), Dizionario enciclopedico di mafie e antimafia, Edizioni Gruppo Abele, Torino, 2013
Assessment methods and Criteria
Oral test, aimed at ascertaining the level of knowledge acquired, the maturity of analysis and orientation skills and the autonomy of critical reflection.
Lessons: 40 hours