Organized crime still exists in America today, and law enforcement agencies are still trying to find a way to eliminate their existence. Many of this organized crime is illegal operations that use legitimate business as a legal front. It’s considered a social institute because it has a hierarchy system because it follows a chain of command among its members. Empirical and Speculative theories developed to assist the police agencies to understand how the organized crime operates and how to deal with its existence. This paper will examine a social institution as it applies to organized crime and the empirical and speculative theories most applicable when applied to organized crime and criminal behavior. Social Institutions
Social Institutions are groups of people who operate with the same purpose, goal and objective. They band together for a common cause, although they may act differently, but within each social institution, the main purpose is all the same (social institution, 2012). Police officers consider organized crime as a social institution because the members of each group have leaders, and they have the same purpose of committing illegal actions to obtain money and recognition.
Primarily out of greed and power.
The bureaucratic and patron-client organization are examples of organized crime social institution because they operate with the same purpose that is growth. The bureaucratic organization has a boss who runs the entire operation with strict rules and regulations. The patron-client organization builds family and trust among their members. The leaders develop strong relationships and dependency to the family from their group so they can live their lives the way they want within the communities. (Lyman and Potter (2007)
According to Lyman and Potter “The legitimate market’s failure to serve sizable consumer populations is responsible for the existence of most vice operations. As a consequence, organized crime capitalizes on market voids and profits from services to these customers. Organized crime preys on the moral issues and laws preventing citizens from enjoying that which they desire to have. As a result, there is a marketable opportunity for businesses, such as prostitutions, drugs, and gambling. These illegal activities may be taking place next door, or in the back of, a legitimate business so they appear to be legitimate also. Many times law enforcement officers may know they are there but look the other way. The boss has developed a relationship with someone in government that will order protection and cover for these illegal businesses.”
The empirical and Speculative Theories
Many speculators believe that organized crime is just a means to an end. The greed and desire for power lead people to life of crime to obtain the wealth and status within the community. The ethnic succession theory believes that organized crime developed around these groups who immigrated to America. They performed illegal acts as they built their communities. The alien conspiracy theory believes that organized crime was brought to America when the organization members brought it with them as they migrated here from another country (Mallory, 2007).
One example of this is the Sicilian Mafia when they introduced the criminal culture to America and established it within their community. The social control theory believes that the community where a person lives, the family, and society either encourages or discourage people to commit illegal actions. According to Mallory, (2007) says, “Fear of punishment, shame or embarrassment and psychological restraints such as conscience are a few reasons why many people choose not to engage in criminal activities.” Healthy relationships with family, with the same beliefs and desires about society committing a criminal, act is the closest connections to organized crime as the members can get.
Organized crime started out as a small business that operated illegal activities it eventually grew into a major illegal business or social institution. As families grow so does the illegal criminal activity. When you look at organized crime as a social institution and the theories applied to organized crime, it gives police officers a better understanding of criminal activities within organized crime units. Understanding these activities can go a long way in solving problems. Organized crime has become a major issue in the world today.
Lyman, D., & Potter, G. (2007). Understanding Organized Crime (4th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Mallory, S. L. (2007). Understanding Organized Crime. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.