Trends in Organized Crime

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 63-83

First online:

Problems of definition: What is organized crime?

  • James O. Finckenauer

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What do most people, or at least most Americans, think of when they hear, see, or read the term “organized crime”? What do they know about it? And from whence do they get their information? What about law enforcement practitioners, prosecutors, judges, and politicians? And, what about academics and journalists, the folks who study and write about organized crime? Agreeing upon a commonly accepted definition of just what is organized crime has been a continuing problem for both research and policy. The discussion that follows addresses various dimensions of this problem, looks at the implications, and makes certain recommendations.