The Small World of Al Capone: The Embedded and Multiplex Nature of Organized Crime
48 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2012
Date Written: October 10, 2012
Organized crime groups may or may not have some criteria for membership, but organized criminal activities seep into the legitimate spheres of society. We argue that it is at the boundaries of the underworld and the upper world where crime gets organized. Layers of embedded and multiplex relationships between criminals and non-criminals comprise Chicago’s Prohibition era organized crime network. This study draws a sample from our unique relational “Capone Dataset” on early 1900s Chicago crime, which we began compiling in 2008 from six archival sources. Using formal social network analysis techniques, this study explores an organized crime network of more than 4,000 relationships between 1,400 individuals. Our stepwise analysis moves from a bounded group of members of Al Capone’s Syndicate, to an embedded and multiplex network spanning criminal, personal, and legitimate spheres, to a small world graph test using simulated random and ERGM networks. We find that an organized crime network conceptualization that includes multiplex and embedded relationships beyond gang membership provides a more accurate and provocative picture of organized crime and has the properties of small world graphs. These findings have implications for future studies of organized crime networks, corruption, resilience, and vulnerability.
Keywords: social networks, organized crime, multiplexity, Prohibition
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation