TITLE

RISING UP AGAINST THE RACKET: PALERMITANI FACING THE SICILIAN MAFIA HEAD ON

AUTHOR(S)
Crowther, Naomi
PUB. DATE
January 2014
SOURCE
Journal of Public & International Affairs;2014, Issue 1, p131
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
This essay investigates how Kuran's (1991) threshold model of collective action can explain how the NGO Addiopizzo, started in 2004 in the Sicilian city Palermo, persuaded 857 Italian businesses to stop paying the pizzo--an illicit racketeering tax levied by the Cosa Nostra on businesses in exchange for "protection." The essay expands on Kuran's dynamic model by discussing the concept of critical mass and whether it is achieved in Palermo. The future of Addiopizzo is briefly discussed in terms of the mechanisms of social network interaction as geographical spread increases. The essay argues that Addiopizzo overcame the collective action problem by strategic use of selective benefits, thus pushing itself into a self-augmenting state. The NGO created a strong brand that both communicated a committed level of participation in Palermo and provided selective benefits to business owners. Coupled with measures to sustain its ideology among the youth, Addiopizzo has gathered momentum toward critical mass. Critical mass, however, is a fragile state, vulnerable to strong external shocks that the mafia have a financial incentive to administer.
ACCESSION #
120540055

 

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