Blending Theories of Organized Crime With the Life Course Perspective: The Value of Biographical Accounts of the Early Life Experiences of Identified Gangsters

James D. Calder, University of Texas - San Antonio

So little attention has been given to life course patterns of acknowledged associates of organized crime. Although some attempts have been made to apply life course theory in the contest of white collar and other types of special offenders introduce new possibilities for organized crime studies. This paper blends developments in the life course perspective with four traditional theories of organized crime, focussing mainly on individual choice and material culture theory. It draws on earlier research that mined autobiographies and biographies of 52 identified gangsters. It recognizes limitations of secondary source evidence, but resolves that such documents may provide the only readily available information for new theory constructions. Data from these sources offer opportunities to consider life course perspectives in connection with existing organized crime theories. Suggestions are offered as to the apparent connections and disconnections between the two theoretical areas, and how we may overcome the limitations of the data.

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Updated 05/20/2006