Organized Crime Has Been Romanticized in American Essay

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Organized crime has been romanticized in American film and television media. Although some of the depictions are stereotyped and exaggerated, many of the core elements revealed in fictionalized accounts of organized crime are real. The history of organized crime in America is linked with important historical and political events including the prohibition of both drugs and alcohol.

According to the United States National Security Council (2013), organized crime is defined by the primary goal of economic or financial gains. Organized crime exists often because underclass groups seek a means of acquiring wealth and status, or bolstering opportunities for pursuing or achieving the American Dream. This fundamental feature distinguishes organized crime from, say, terrorist groups that might have a primary goal that is more political in nature such as the recognition of a new nation state of ethnic minority groups. Another definition of organized crime takes into account the more recent trans-national scope of the organizations related to the use of new technologies to further criminal goals (Dobovsek, 1996).

Organized crime syndicates do rely on violence as a core tactic of intimidation, social control, and the means by which to acquire or maintain power. However, organized crime uses politics and corrupted politicians as a means
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to an end. Both illegitimate, or illegal, businesses and legal businesses provide the means by which to secure financial reward. Money laundering, drug dealing, human trafficking, and weapons trafficking are a few of the many business that organized crime syndicates are involved with. Sometimes the line between organized crime and legitimate business and political enterprise is a thin one. Infiltration of law enforcement, government, and business is a key strategy of organized crime leaders. Organized crime creates gray and black-market systems that can be every bit as lucrative, if not more so, than legitimate means of acquiring wealth. Because of the attractiveness of wealth accumulation, organized crime remains a significant problem around the world.

According to Finkenauer (n.d.), the problem with defining organized crime is not how to define the crime, but how to define "organized." The diversity of organized crime syndicates makes it difficult to narrow down a definition. Similarly, organized crime syndicates have changed over time. Eight of the most notable attributes of organized crime include the following. First, organized criminal bodies have a distinct type of structural organization. Hierarchical organizations are the most common, but the structure of the organization may also be related to cultural, contextual, and historical constraints. Second, the use of violence is condoned or even encouraged…

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References

Dobovsek, B. (1996). Organized crime: Can we unify the definition? Retrieved online: https://www.ncjrs.gov/policing/org323.htm

Finckenauer, J.O. (n.d.). Problems of definition: What is organized crime? In Trends in Organized Crime 8(3): Spring, 2005.

United States National Security Council (2013). Strategy to Combat Transnational organized crime. Retrieved online: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/nsc/transnational-crime/definition

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