For almost a century the Italian mafia has been regarded-in the United States and elsewhere-as the prototype of organised crime. In Italy itself, however, the identification between mafia and organised crime was frequently questioned and even denied right up until the mid -1980s. For the social scientists carrying out the first field studies in Sicily between the 1960s and the early 1980s, for example, the mafia was simply a form ofbehaviour and power. That is, they asserted, there were mafiosi, single individuals, who embodied determined sub-cultural values and exercised specific functions within their communities, but no mafia organisation existed as such [1]. As late as 1983, Pino Arlacchi's successful book, La mafia imprenditrice (Mafia Business), opened with the following statement: 'Social research into the question of the mafia has probably now reached the point where we can say that the mafia, as the term is commonly understood, does not exist' [2].