Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: June 02, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971928 | Print ISBN: 9781412950855 | Online ISBN: 9781412971928| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Sean Patrick Griffin
Despite the American fascination with organized crime, as evidenced in popular media and academic attention, there is considerable disagreement as to what the term means or how to define it. The following discussions are each related to the social construction of organized crime and thus have theoretical and policy implications. Furthermore, because the operational definition of organized crime necessarily affects the criminal justice system vis-à-vis such matters as resource allocation, priority assessments, criminal sanctions, and so on, these contentious “academic” debates are, of course, ultimately related to issues of race, ethnicity, fairness, and justice. Though the study of organized crime is primarily a sociological pursuit, the phenomenon is a subject of study in numerous other disciplines, including anthropology, economics, history, and political science. Despite, if not because of, this broad and varied inquiry into the topic, there is little consensus regarding what constitutes “organized crime” nor on who engages in ...