The use of threat and violence has always represented one of the distinctive features of Mafia’s action. In this regard, scholars mostly refer to a physical and tangible violence, usually performed by Mafia groups in a professional way in order to hit competitors and betrayers, enforce or break agreements and contracts, attack or protect markets and activities, foster reputation, impose territorial power, and influence beliefs and actions of their competitors and, more generally, of those who compose the wider social, political and economic context. A closer analysis, however, shows how these actions, supposedly oriented by an instrumental logics, are often driven by subtler dynamics, and do not necessarily disdain a symbolic and «political» meaning which could have a profound impact at social, communicative and strategic levels. This Forum gathers together scholars belonging to various disciplines – namely sociology and history, but with several incursions into cultural studies, political science, economics, anthropology and law – who address the characteristics, strategies, meanings and effects of Mafia violence in Italy, according to a comparative and diachronic approach which focuses on three main key-words: territories, contexts and practices/performances.
Keywords: Violence; Mafias; Italy; Society.