© 2016

Challenging the Mafia Mystique

Cosa Nostra from Legitimisation to Denunciation


About this book


The Sicilian Mafia, or Cosa Nostra, is one of the most intriguing criminal phenomena in the world. It is an unparalleled organised criminal grouping that over almost two centuries has been able not only to successfully permeate licit and illicit economy, politics and civil society, but also to influence and exercise authoritative power over both the underworld and the upper-world. This criminal phenomenon has been a captivating conundrum for scholars of different disciplines who have tried to explain with various paradigms the reasons behind the emergence and consolidation of the mafia. 
Challenging the Mafia Mystique provides an analysis of the changes the Sicilian mafia has undergone, from legitimisation to denunciation. Rino Coluccello highlights how, from the very emergence of the organised criminal groups in Sicily, a culture existed that was protective and tolerant of the mafia. He argues that the various conceptualisations of the mafia that dominated the public and scientific debate in the nineteenth and more than half of the twentieth century created a mystique, which legitimised the mafia and contributed to their success. This book will be of great interest to scholars and students of organised crime, Italian politics and Italian literature.


Mafia Cosa Nostra Organised crime gangs Italian literature criminology crime crime and society politics and crime fascism Image Nation politics

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Coventry UniversityUK

About the authors

Salvatore Coluccello is Senior Lecturer at the School of International Studies and Social Science, Coventry University, UK.

Bibliographic information


“Rino Coluccello’s Challenging the Mafia Mystique weaves together history, sociological research, and popular literature to provide a deft analysis of the evolution and history of the mafia in Italy. … Challenging the Mafia Mystique will certainly appeal to American mafia and organized crime scholars, since there are many parallels that can and have been made between the Italian and American experience with the mafia.” (David A. Marvelli, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books,, January, 2017)