Investigating the Social Embeddedness of Criminal Groups: Longitudinal Associations between Masculine Honour and Legitimizing Attitudes towards the Camorra

Giovanni A. Travaglino, Maria-Therese Friehs, Patrick F Kotzur, Dominic Abrams

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The embeddedness of criminal groups within communities accrues from their ability to establish legitimacy, particularly among young people. A prototypical example is mafia claims to political authority in Italy. Intracultural Appropriation Theory proposes that embeddedness is partly derived from criminal groups’ ability to embody cultural-specific ideologies of masculine honor and that they reinforce these ideologies in society through their actions. We tested these propositions using a three-wave longitudinal design involving Italian adolescents from the Campania region (N1stwave = 1,173). We also examined an alternative explanation rooted in individuals’ generic acceptance of group-based hierarchies, i.e., social dominance orientation. The longitudinal design enabled us to examine for the first time both between- and within-person processes. Between-person results indicated that higher levels of the masculine honor ideology and social dominance were associated with stronger legitimizing attitudes towards the Camorra, a mafia-type group. Within-person effects revealed a positive reciprocal association between masculine honor and legitimizing attitudes. These findings emphasize the importance of culture-specific ideologies in sustaining the legitimacy of criminal groups.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Early online date22 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Nov 2022

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