Assignment SOC

Here is your assignment. It is designed to develop your understanding of organized crime conceptually and with a focus on cross-cultural comparisons between the US, Sicily, and Russia. I have included the names of the authors of the studies where the relevant information is found.

Everyone must respond to the first question, and you can choose to do any two of the others. The first question is worth 40 points and the others are 15 points each.

I suggest that you try to write approximately 300 to 500 words in total, between a page and a half and two pages (typed).


1. Why mafias develop – What are the three major conditions that help mafias develop according to Anderson?

•Is Russia like 1800s America in terms of the potential for mafia development (Anderson)?

•Compare the structural and other unique American factors that account for the emergence of organized crime and compare it to situation in Russia (Anderson).

•Mafia versus Organized Crime: Which term is more useful in understanding this phenomenon and what are the conceptual limits of each term? (Anderson and Woodiwiss)

•What has been the shifting focus in the emerging understanding of organized crime in US from early work of Thrasher and Moley to the Wickersham Commission? (Woodiwiss)


2. What is the difference between social network analysis of criminal networks and viewing organized crime as centrally controlled organizations? (Bruinsma & Bernasco)

3. With reference to the origins of organized crime in Russia and Sicily what are the key similarities and differences between the two societies and the American experience of “early stage capitalism?” (Anderson and Woodiwiss)

What is the importance of corruption of government/excessive bureaucratic power in Russia and the rise of political machines in US (Woodiwiss and Anderson)