The purpose of organized crime research lies in understanding the complex connections between the phenomena of organized crime and the social structures that enable these to occur. Although no universally accepted definition of organised crime has emerged, social scientists have attempted to define it through the detailed study of the interplay between several factors. These attempts have been insufficient and their validity is questionable. In this article, we discuss the purpose of studying organized crime and its various subtypes.
There are many problems with conducting research on organised crime in countries where state data is lacking or inconsistent. These data are also lacking, which limits the development of a richer, more inclusive field. Research on organised crime is therefore dependent on the data available from government sources and small, empirical studies. Unfortunately, few women conduct research on organised crime, limiting the development of the field. However, it is possible to find female subjects if one is willing to do the necessary legwork.
While the purpose of studying organised crime is to develop more effective responses to this crime, it is also important to define the nature of the groups involved. In most definitions, the unit of analysis is the offender. In fact, it is the offender who is the basis of the crime that defines the group. By understanding the nature of organized crime, one can design more effective response systems and prevent further crimes. The purposes of studying organized crime are listed below:
As with any field of research, there are challenges. Scholars in the Global South may encounter more research challenges compared to their counterparts in the Global North. Researchers in the Global North, on the other hand, rely on state-funded organisations and practitioners to source data. These relationships may offer the researchers a platform to influence policy and practice. Further, the Australian Institute of Criminology provides grants for academic research projects.
Among these types of research, gambling and narcotics trafficking are the most common sources of income for organised crime. Other forms of illegal enterprises include loan companies, which are known as a “juice racket” in underworld jargon. These loan companies charge usurious interest rates and collect money from delinquent debtors through violence. Another type of organised crime study, labour racketeering, involves control of union leadership and the use of union resources for illegal activities. Some illegal enterprises include real estate firms, dry-cleaning establishments, vending machines, and other businesses that are considered to be legitimate.
One of the most common ways of measuring the openness of governments toward organized crime is the way politicians talk about it. In official discourse, criminal organizations are either praised or condemned. The extent to which these groups are mentioned in official discourse is a good proxy for the effectiveness of anti-Mafia efforts. This type of public discourse may signal whether the government is serious about curbing organized crime. So, the purpose of studying organized crime is to understand its links to political systems.
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