Keywords: Careers; group structures; para-state; adventure capitalism; media myths and reality.
The paper reports on how the author got introduced to the phenomenon of the mafia by the eminent writer and social reformer Danilo Dolci and then conducted his empirical research in the 1960s. This research included - besides interviews - above all a thourough study of never before used material in the Archivio di Stato di Palermo, material that was organized and interpreted with the help of sociological concepts and presented in the book Mafia (published in German in 1970 and translated into Italian, English, and Spanish). The main contributions this book added to the study of the mafia are here summarized in a short outline of the careers of mafiosi, the structure of mafiose groupings and the functions of mafiose behavior as para-state and adventure capitalism. Added are some reflections on the reciprocal influence of media myths and reality as well as some tentative remarks on recent developments.