Maurizio Catino

The organization of secrecy in mafia organizations

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Mafia organizations are not only a particular form of organized crime that has the monopoly on illegal activities, they are also a particular form of secret society. This latter aspect, however, has been less explored in the literature on mafias. This article focuses primarily on the three Italian mafias, i.e., Cosa Nostra, 'Ndrangheta, and Camorra, and analyzes the organizational structures and rules that mafias adopt to pursue their illegal activities in conditions of secrecy. In order to simultaneusly pursue their economic goals and maintain secrecy, mafias have to face a series of organizational dilemmas, e.g. comparimentalization vs coordination, centralization vs decentralization, effective pursuit of the objectives vs of consensus. The article shows how mafias' structures and rules are designed in order to overcome these dilemmas.


  • Secret
  • Organizational Dilemmas
  • Organized Crime
  • Mafia


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