Made Men: Mafia Culture and the Power of Symbols, Rituals, and Myth

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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Jul 5, 2013 - Social Science - 182 pages
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The novel The Godfather (1969) and the movie of the same name (1972) entrenched the myth of the Mafiosi as valiant knights, men of honor, and defenders of the traditional concept of family. As a result of this movie and other popular portrayals, the image of mobsters as “men of honor and tradition” has become iconic throughout America. Yet the truth of the matter belies this more noble image. The Mafia is a ruthless organization. Their concept of family is a twisted one. But viewed through the lens of popular culture, it is often difficult to separate the fiction from the reality. Made Men demystifies this image by dismantling the code of honor that Mafiosi live by, including its attendant symbols, rituals, and the lifestyle that it demands.

Since the end of World War II, the Mafia in Italy and America has undergone major changes, which are charted by the authors through the present day. Nicaso and Danesi also consider all kinds of related organizations, not only the Italian ones, including the Yakuza, the Triads, and the Russian Mafia. The authors look at organized criminal culture in general, attempting to explain why its symbols, rituals, and practices continue to draw people in, both as literal members, or as consumers of the pop culture that glorifies them. This story traces and decodes the origins, history and success of the mafia in the U.S., bringing a better, and more accurate understanding of this ultimately brutal, violent, and corrupting “family business.” It is a story that has rarely been told in this way, but which is believed, nonetheless, important to tell.
 

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Contents

1 Origins and Organization
1
2 Honor
25
3 Rituals and Symbols
51
4 Appearance
75
5 Names
97
6 Myth
119
7 Conclusion
137
Notes
143
Bibliography
155
Index
159
About the Authors
169
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About the author (2013)

Antonio Nicaso, is an award-winning journalist, a bestselling author and an internationally recognized expert on organized crime. He is a regular consultant to governments and law-enforcement agencies around the world and a lecturer at several universities. Nicaso teaches in the postgraduate courses on history of organized crime at Middlebury College (Vermont) and he is the co-director of the Centre of Forensic Semiotics at Victoria College (University of Toronto). He sits on International Advisory Council of The Italian Institute of Stategic Studies “Nicoḷ Machiavelli.

Marcel Danesi is professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto. He is known for his work in language, communications, and semiotics; being Director of the Program in semiotics and communication theory. He has also held positions at Rutgers University, University of Rome "La Sapienza", the Catholic University of Milan, and the University of Lugano. Among his most significant books are Cool: The Signs and Meanings of Adolescence and Popular Culture: An Introduction (2011).

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