On Finding Theoretical Insights: Some Illustrations From the Study of Organized Crime

Rick Aniskiewicz, Indiana University - Kokomo

This paper deals with the nature of theories and the process of theory construction in relation to the study of organized crime. Our understanding of organized crime can be enhanced by a consideration of several methatheoretical issues and a recognition that some work that does not fall under the rubric of criminology can still provide concepts/ideas that can be quite useful for theoretical purposes. For example, the paper shows how Norton Long's notice of "The Local Community as an Ecology of Games" can function as a theoretical "lead" for conceptualizing corruption as an "ecology of games". Also, and most importantly for the purposes of this paper, Robert Nisbet's work on Sociology as an Art Form" provides several insights on theory and the process of theory construction (the 'logic of discovery" as opposed to the "logic of demonstration") that can help to develop both a holistic and heuristic understanding of organized crime. Nisbet's work on the sources of theoretical imagination, themes and styles, landscapes, portraits, and motion are discussed in terms of their applicability to the theoretical understanding of organized crime.

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Updated 05/20/2006