Informations and abstract
Keywords: Mafia Women, Positioning, Discourse, Representations, Identity, Reputation.
Most studies on mafia organizations rely on the analysis of judicial documents, reports of law enforcement agencies or on the representations of key informants. Despite the richness of these sources, they entail an “externalµ perspective that involves a risk of affecting the definition of the mafia phenomenon. This article aims to study mafia organizations from an “internalµ perspective, that is, by examining the representations of their members and paying attention to the ways they interpret reality and their own acts. It employs qualitative methods and is based on 18 semi-structured discursive interviews with women belonging to the main mafia organizations, held in a high security section. The study focuses on the analysis of two complementary discursive strategies – distancing and affirmation – trying to highlight the identity repositioning processes they involve. The distancing discourse signals which social and institutional representations the mafia prisoners want to distance themselves from. The affirmation discourse identifies, on the contrary, those narrative strategies that express subjects’ desire to “be recognizedµ; claiming an identity linked to their mafia membership. The analysis sheds light on and contextualizes the complex identity work carried out by mafia women. In dialoguing with various imaginaries, women seem able to play different identity games in which mafia membership is masked, concealed, disguised, but also exhibited and reaffirmed.