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Organized Crime in ChicagoBeyond the Mafia$
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Robert M. Lombardo

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037306

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037306.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Organized Crime in Chicago

Robert M. Lombardo

University of Illinois Press

This book examines the emergence and continuation of traditional organized crime in Chicago from a sociological perspective. It uses the term “organized crime” to define the political corruption that afforded protection to gambling, prostitution, and other vice activity in large American cities from the second half of the nineteenth century until the end of the twentieth century. The book challenges the alien conspiracy theory's interpretation that organized crime evolved in a linear fashion beginning with the Sicilian Mafia in Sicily, emerging in the form of the Black Hand in America's immigrant colonies, and culminating in the development of the Cosa Nostra in America's urban centers. The book instead argues that Italians continued to dominate organized crime after rising out of poverty because of the presence of “racket subcultures” within American society. It thus highlights the importance of social structural conditions for the emergence and continuation of traditional organized crime in American society. This introduction provides an overview of the chapters that follow.

Keywords:   organized crime, Chicago, political corruption, gambling, prostitution, Sicilian Mafia, alien conspiracy theory, Black Hand, Cosa Nostra, racket subcultures

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