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The Sicilian Mafia

The Sicilian Mafia

The Business of Private Protection

Diego Gambetta

ISBN 9780674807426

Publication date: 02/01/1996

In a society where trust is in short supply and democracy weak, the Mafia sells protection, a guarantee of safe conduct for parties to commercial transactions. Drawing on the confessions of eight Mafiosi, Diego Gambetta develops an elegant analysis of the economic and political role of the Sicilian Mafia.


  • A remarkable theoretical achievement. Starting from what is apparently a most unpromising premise, that the workings of the Mafia can be understood within a rational choice framework, Gambetta repeatedly surprises us with his theoretical ingenuity… In a brief review, one cannot do justice to the complexity of the arguments in a book like Gambetta’s. Let it suffice to say I could not put it down and I estimate it will become a classic in the burgeoning literature upon the rational choice approach to sociological analysis.

    —Peter Abell, British Journal of Sociology


  • Diego Gambetta is Professor of Sociology at the University of Oxford and Official Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.

Book Details

  • 346 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press