How to Do Business Like the Mafia: the Italian and American Mafia's Role in Businesses

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History of the Italian Mafia

Final Research Paper

How To Do Business Like The Mafia: The Italian and American Mafia’s Role in Businesses

Since the Mafia’s appearance in the 1800’s, these Italian criminal societies have infiltrated the economic and social realms of Italy and now play a large role in many countries throughout the world. Today the Mafia is considered one of the most notorious and widespread criminal organizations that has ever existed. The most prominent parts of the world that the Mafia exists are in Italy and America where they play a large role in these countries economies, most notably through their control of small and large businesses.

Just like the origin of the word mafia, the history of Sicily, which is considered the birthplace of the Mafia, and its relationship with this organization, is very unique. Because of its geographic location, Sicily has always been a desirable location for trade and colonization. Generally speaking, the mafia is thought of as an Italian secret crime society, but the origins of the Mafia start way before the introduction and use of automatic weapons and illegal drugs. It was born long before it was given its name, through a long historical process in which the administration of justice was extremely fragmented and corrupt, guaranteeing impunity to the criminals.

In a time of hardship and poverty, the Mafia began as a way of life: a way to protect one's family and loved ones from the injustice of the government. Sicily's violent and oppressive government history and its numerous corrupt and inconsistent rulers, especially regarding their justice system, fostered an atmosphere of self-reliance and cooperation among the Italian people. Through fear, inspired by threats and violence and supported by an organization of family and friends, the Mafia was able to gain and maintain this reliance and respect. It is important to acknowledge the origin of the Mafia because it is through these institutions and social structures that the Mafia was able to gain an immense amount of power and thus control businesses around the world today.

In 241 BC the Romans gained control over Sicily in the first Punic War. The Romans introduced the economic and social system called the Latifundia, which created a hierarchy of people and a system of taxation that would be central to Sicily's economy until Italian unification in 1861. Although the Roman's actions in Sicily have no direct influence in the creation of the Mafia, they did set up the social structure of hierarchy from which the Mafia would emerge and eventually control areas of land and inadvertently control a large part of the Italian economy. In 826 the Roman Empire fell to the Arabs who brought an important aspect of life to the Sicilian people that would eventually become part of the Mafia culture; internal justice. Instead of having a system of authorities to deal with crime and misconduct, they used personal and internal justice to avenge crimes and set records straight in order to keep their businesses under their own control. The Normans were the next group to annex Sicily in the 11th century and they greatly magnified the feudal structure established by the Romans. The Spanish conquered Sicily in 1500 and they are considered the longest and most important foreign presence in Sicily. The Sicilian people were not represented by the government and eventually organized into guilds that acted as a judicial system. These guilds were unlike other European guilds and took care of their problems internally and did not include state or local authority. Internal justice led by these guilds was another step towards the formation of the Mafia (Servadio). In the late 1500’s and the early 1600’s Sicily's feudal system went through some administrative changes. In the early 1600’s large landholders in Sicily lived in Palermo, handing over the command of their estates to estate...
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