Italian Mafias Today
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Italian Mafias Today

Territory, Business and Politics

Edited by Felia Allum, Isabella Clough Marinaro and Rocco Sciarrone

Despite a rapidly changing economic and legal landscape, Italian mafias remain prominent actors in the global criminal underworld. This book provides an extensive and up-to-date view of how they adapt to shifting economic opportunities and intensifying legal and civic backlash.
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Chapter 6: The economic dimension of mafias, social capital and the grey area

Rocco Sciarrone


This chapter analyses how mafias infiltrate the legal economy, influencing the economic organisation of local society by discouraging investments in production, standing in the way of full enjoyment of property rights and thereby profoundly affecting economic opportunities and the allocation of resources. It examines how mafia groups influence political and institutional life while seeking social consensus, demonstrating their adaptability to social change. The author highlights the dual economic and political nature of the mafia which pursues both profit and power by building cooperation with institutional, political, economic and civil society actors, drawing them into collusion and complicity, and then turning those relationships to its economic advantage. The study then focuses on the importance of social capital as a key resource for the success - economic and otherwise - of mafia groups, and the role of the ‘grey area’ of collusion within which that capital is built and mobilised.

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