Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Organised crime and the criminal underworld : Cosa Nostra and its "vicini" in the province of Trapani between the end of the 1970s and the early 1990s
Author: Messina, F. G.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 1983
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
This research studies the relationship between Cosa Nostra and the other criminal groups operating in its territory, trying to highlight the social and cultural aspects of this relationship and how Cosa Nostra uses other criminal groups to recruit new members. As noted by Salvatore Lupo if we consider the network of relations of a mafioso, we can observe three different links to/from him: 1) towards other mafiosi, 2) towards the high strata of society, namely the prominent people who protect him, 3) towards the bottom areas of society, namely criminality. This last link will be the subject of this work, where I will study the role of the so-called vicini, who belong to the criminal underworld and their role in helping Cosa Nostra. In the words of defector Antonio Patti, the real strength of Cosa Nostra lies in the presence of the vicini. Every ‘man of honour’ has got several vicini and together they make up the real strength of Cosa Nostra. As underlined by one defector: it isn’t necessary for the Family to be in any great number to have strength because the strength comes from the outside, from the so-called vicini, who show their availability in providing various services to Cosa Nostra. These services vary from the mere collecting and transmitting of information, to the keeping control of places and people, to committing crimes, even if just functional for Cosa Nostra activities. The figure of the vicino can be explained as something in the middle between being a normal criminal and being a ‘man of honour’. The vicino is that person who through his criminal activities comes into contact with Cosa Nostra, then is brought closer to it, often with a view to future affiliation. The geographic area considered in this research is one with a considerable presence of other criminal groups and individuals outside of Cosa Nostra. In the province of Trapani we can observe a great deal of other types of criminal activity, from robberies to drug pushing, from burglary to car stealing. It is from this background that the vicini of Cosa Nostra usually come from. In chapter one I will underline how the strong presence of criminal groups and individuals who operate in the territory where Cosa Nostra is also present necessitates them finding of mode of co-existing. In doing so I will look at the process through which these criminals become vicini to Cosa Nostra. In chapter two I will show, in practical terms, how the vicini work for Cosa Nostra. Finally in chapter three I will present examples where criminal groups became a threat to the local mafia Family. In particular considering the case of the feuds of Marsala and Alcamo in the late ‘80s/early’90s. The aims of this work are, first of all, to see how Cosa Nostra interacts with local criminal groups or single criminals and secondly to look at the way Cosa Nostra uses people, who are not part of the local Family to control the local underworld. Thirdly I will look to explain how these vicini are critical for Cosa Nostra’s activities and prosperity. The overall goal of this work is to study how important social capital is for Cosa Nostra and how this criminal organisation can only exist in an environment that supports it.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available