Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 51–97 | Cite as

The paradoxes of organized crime

  • Letizia Paoli


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


Organize Crime International Relation Market Activity Illegal Activity Collective Identity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Letizia Paoli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of CriminologyMax Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal LawFreiburg im BreisgauGermany

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