Very few people have had the kind of impact on the niche field of organized crime research as Donald R. Cressey. Here, then, is part of the foreword Cressey wrote for the Henner Hess classic, Mafia & Mafiosi: Origin, Power and Myth (NYU Press, 1998):
Most importantly, I think, [Mafia & Mafiosi] teaches us to distinguish between an organisation and organisation. Dr. Hess does not use these words, but he makes the distinction nevertheless. ‘An organisation’ (for example, the Mafia) implies membership, offices, a hierarchy of authority. ‘Organisation’ (for example, mafia), on the other hand, implies understandings, common methods, parallelisms.Organisation often is obvious even when there is no evidence of an organisation. But in discussin organisation we often go wrong because we find it necessary to use ‘the’ in phrases such as ‘the establishment’, ‘the military industrial complex’, ‘the police’. By using ‘the’ we create more structure than we know exists. We transform organisation into an organisation.This book most beautifully documents how mafia organisation in Sicily developed, persisted and gathered power despite the absence of a Mafia. Each mafioso personage operates in specifiable ways and maintains a network of relationships. Violence, threat of violence, and fear of violence are the cement that holds the network together. In a village or territory, the location of deference, respect, honour, fear, and other manifestations of power has become predictable. This is organisation. But a way of life neither reflects nor anticipates the existence of a Mafia apparatus with inducted members, a division of labour and a hierarchical pattern of authority.
That it is Cressey of all people, author of the influential and assailed Theft of the Nation: The Structure and Operations of Organized Crime in America (Harper & Row, 1969), who penned the above is something I hope to address later.