Criminal organizing applying the theory of partial organization to four cases of organized crime

Amir Rostami, Hernan Mondani, Fredrik Liljeros, Christofer Edling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We explore how the idea of partial organization can provide insights in the study of organized crime. Studying criminal organizing with a theoretical framework used for other social organizing phenomena can help us see the interplay between different forms of criminal collaboration under a single analytical lens, and start a discussion on whether criminal organizing is intrinsically different from other types of social organizing. We analyze four cases of criminal collaboration in Sweden between 1990 and 2015: the Syriac mafia, the Hells Angels Mc Sweden, the street gang Werewolf Legion, and the Hallunda robbery. While the outlaw motorcycle gang, and to a certain extent the street gang, are complete organizations, the mafia is based around and heavily parasitic on other institutions. We have also shown that time-bounded projects are found in the criminal context, with these emerging from strong network relations. Our results show that most of the elements of criminal organizing are not formalized and that partial organization is at least as important and powerful as complete organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315–342
Number of pages28
JournalTrends in Organized Crime
Issue number4
Early online date2017 Jul 1
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • Organizing
  • Partial organization
  • Organized crime
  • Mafia
  • Street gangs
  • Outlaw motorcycle gangs
  • Criminal project


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