The institution may be loosely used to define any organization, however; in a sociological view the term is reserved for the description of systems of a normative nature which serve five aspects in human life. These are defined as institutions of a primary order and they affect kinship (family), power use (government), provision of services and goods (economy), transmission of knowledge in society (education) and relationship to the Supreme Being (religion). All these institutions have protocol, a structure and rules and regulations that define their scope of operation (Kendall, 2008). Thus they are all defined as social institutions because they afford human interaction. The term social institutions at times may apply to crime.
Crime may at times be conducted on large scale operations within society to include a large number of networked people. These groups of criminals may at times be highly systematic to be termed organized. Engagement into crime at an organized and large scale is what is termed as organized crime (Kendall, 2008). The scale of operation may be within a local community, state, inter-state, national or international. Like any other institutions these criminal organizations are highly structured, have rules and regulations, and networks that involve a large number of people either conducting legal or illegal affairs for the criminal organization for profit gains. Just like any social institutions these organized criminals partly depend on societys support to survive and operate within the society, as such their activities are intertwined with normal societal life.
Thus these organizations comprise of members of society that are upright such as within the law enforcers, judiciary and the legislature as well as the outright crooked criminals. The upright people may be coerced or forced into cooperation through malice, black mail, bribery and intimidation. These criminal organizations may also make mutually dependant or symbiotic relationships with society and other legitimate businesses (Townsend,2005). They may also invest their money into legitimate businesses in society and thus completely blend into society, which provides them with a market, protection, man power and all that they need to survive. Thus organized crime transforms criminals groups into social institutions of a legal nature because they incorporate society into their operations, and have organized structures, rules and regulations akin to those held by other legal social institutions (Kendall, 2008).
There are various empirical and speculative theories which apply to crime and organized crime. The first theory queer ladder of mobility states that this type of crime is in existence as a simple means to an end and it is simply and entry point that people utilize to accumulate power and wealth. The second theory is the ethnic succession theory, this theory postulates that ethnic based groups within immigrant populations make up social blocks that they may used to achieve their dreams in the new land because they have common values and cultural aspects that bond them and spur them towards their goals through the use of organized crime (Mathewson, 2010). The alien conspiracy theory theorizes that organized criminals elsewhere transfer their criminal activities to other potential and lucrative areas with aims of succeeding and expanding further-this may be exemplified by the Sicilian Mafia that transferred part of its operations to the United States. Finally, there is the social control theory which theorizes that society, family or community bonds may encourage or deter entry into crime life (Mathewson, 2010).
Kendall, D. (2008),. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials, 7th edition, Cengage Learning
Mathewson, J. (2010),. Organized Crime, retrieved on 8th January, 2011, from http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2938220/organized_crime_a_descriptive_essay_pg3.html?cat=4
Townsend, J. (2005),.Organized Crime, Rain tree Publishers.
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