Constructing Organized Crime in the UK
University Press 2013
There is a fascinating area of study of how communities around the world realized there was such a concept as organized crime. This topic is driven by social attitudes and, to an increasing degree, by media images such as the Godfather movies. Some criminal groups actually model their movie icons, with generational differences for those who saw the Godfather, or Scarface and now Sopranos. In Lush Life: Constructing Organized Crime in the UK (Oxford University Press, 2013), Dick Hobbs provides us with an analysis of how the image of organized crime grew and changed over time in the UK. As he points out, the types of crimes that are associated with organized crime have always existed, but the recognition of the concept is relatively new. It is driven in part by xenophobic attitudes to migrants and also by the need for government agencies to define the type of work they do. As you will hear in the interview, the same issues that apply in the UK are definitely present in Australia, and there are a number of authors who point to a similar phenomenon in the US. Hobbs has given us an ethnographic history of the social nature of these crimes in the UK. He points out that the crimes are a means of providing services that are accepted by the community but depending and how and by whom they are delivered, they can be classified as either a criminal plague or a social ecology. However, regardless of the academic goals of the book, Lush Life is a great read. I must admit to participating in one of Hobbs’ symptoms that supports the mythology of organized crime, namely, I really enjoyed reading about the characters and their ‘business’ practices. For those of you who are interested in researching this topic please listen to the end of the interview when I asked Dick for his suggestions on the best way to conduct studies in organized crime.