, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 51-97

The paradoxes of organized crime

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The paper argues that the concept of organised crime inconsistently incorporates the following notions: a) the provision of illegal goods and services and b) a criminal organization, understood as a large-scale collectivity, primarily engaged in illegal activities with a well-defined collective identity and subdivision of work among its members. Against this superimposition, the author's contention is twofold: (1) The supply of illegal commodities mainly takes place in a `disorganized' way and, due to the constraints of product illegality, no immanent tendency towards the development of large-scale criminal enterprises within illegal markets exist. (2) Some lasting large-scale criminal organizations do exist, but they are neither exclusively involved in illegal market activities, nor is their development and internal configuration the result of illegal market dynamics.For Susan Strange: mentor and friend