Keywords: Sociology of Economics; Institutional Arrangements; Illegal Behavior and Enforcement of Law.
The present paper deals with cooperation and exchange relations between the mafiosi and the economic actors within the (formal) legal economy. The paper is mainly analytical in nature; nevertheless it relies on previous researches carried out by the authors in traditional and non-traditional areas of mafia presence in Southern and Northern Italy. According to a macro/micro level approach, we firstly lay out several features of «institutional environments» that offer a good opportunity structure for the infiltration by a mafia group. Secondly we present a framework of the different protection patterns between the mafiosi and the economic actors, thus by distinguishing between «service protection», «guarantee protection» and «regulative protection». Each of them provides different benefits and arises different relational structures and trust interconnections. Lastly, we show how micro-relations between the mafiosi and the economic actors «institutionalized» themselves giving rise to peculiar «organizational fields»: a recognized area made up by «grey» and illegal exchanges of resources among different kind of actors (e.g. entrepreneurs, politicians, civil servants, and mafiosi) sharing also systems of common meanings and of mutual recognitions.