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Men of Respect: A Social History of the Sicilian Mafia

NCJ Number
R Catanzaro
Date Published
258 pages
This book explores the characteristics, genesis, and evolution of the global crime organization known as the Mafia.
Unlike previous researchers who consider the Mafia a vestige of traditional Sicilian society doomed to disappear as that society modernizes, and those who have compared the modern Mafia entrepreneurs with the old-style mafiosi only in terms of the acquisition of honor, this author believes that there has been no break between the rural mafiosi of the 19th century and today's criminals. The historical process that began in the 19th century has resulted in an organization with a power structure that guarantees the success of individuals who can mold the continuous challenges of change into its form. This investigation focuses on the phenomenology of early Mafia behavior and on the relationship between the social and economic preconditions of the Mafia and its genesis. Two well-known codes of Sicilian and Mafia culture are crucial: honor and instrumental friendship. These cultural codes and the modern forces that shaped them gave the Mafia its essential competitive character which, in turn, imbued the organization with its criminal dynamism. The Mafia's values and competitiveness have expanded its importance in Sicilian life and its international influence. As a pragmatic combination of old and new, the Mafia has been able to weather, and even to cause, change.


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