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| Words: 1141 | Submitted: 12-Dec-2014
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DescriptionBy illustrating American derivations of the Italian Mafia, such as The Sopranos and The Godfather, we will explore the ways in which customary perspectives of the family have molded the Mafia and other criminal organizations.
The definition of Mafia is "a group of people of similar interests or backgrounds prominent in a particular field or enterprise" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Mafia). The Mafia began as "a secret criminal society of Sicily or Italy" and eventually there was a "similarly conceived criminal organization in the United States" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Mafia). There is no denying that the face of organized crime has changed throughout history. In spite of these changes, ideas about family and loyalty have remained a relentless aspect of the culture of organized crime. By illustrating American derivations of the Italian Mafia, such as The Sopranos and The Godfather, we will explore the ways in which customary perspectives of the family have molded the Mafia and other criminal organizations.
The Mafia evolved over hundreds of years in Sicily. In the mid-nineteenth century, Sicilians joined together in groups and began to rely on "family ties" to protect themselves, keep themselves safe, and carry out their own justice in a place where the Italian government was just recently trying to establish itself. In Sicily, the expression "mafioso," at first had no criminal implications and was utilized to refer to an individual who was suspicious of those in a position of power. Eventually the group turned into the brutal criminal organization referred to today as the Sicilian Mafia. (Ott 291-294)
The American Mafia, or Cosa Nostra, which translates to "this thing of ours", came of power in the 1920s. The American Mafia originated as a result of the Prohibition Era, when the Eighteenth Amendment of the US Constitution banned the sale, production, importation and transportation of alcohol and an enormous opportunity arose for organized crime. The American Mafia is a separate entity from the Mafia in Italy. However, they share the same traditions as the Italian Mafia such as omerta, the code of silence (Lunde 118-119).
The Mafia uses the term "family" or "clan" when referring to a specific group of those involved in organized crime. The power of family and loyalty extends far beyond those who share a bloodline.
The traditional family is highly respected in the Italian culture and values of togetherness and closeness are extremely important. Although living under the same roof isn't as common as it once was, living in a close proximity is very common. Gathering around the table with the family at mealtimes brings a "togetherness" that only Italian families truly understand. Family is more than just relation, it's a way of life.
The Italian family also functions as one's "government". "Family has been the institution allowing Italy to thrive despite its ineffective government, but in doing so it has underlined just how ineffective the government is and, by providing an alternative, made it unnecessary to fix the problem" ...
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