Lou Corsino, North Central College professor of sociology, authored the article, “They Can’t Shoot Everyone: Italians, Social Capital, and Organized Crime in the Chicago Outfit,” in the May issue of the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice (Vol. 29 No. 2, 256-275).
The quarterly journal focuses on a critical issue in contemporary criminal justice in order to provide a cogent, thorough and timely exploration of the topic. Those issues include organized crime, community policing, gangs, white-collar crime and excessive police force.
Corsino’s article examines social capital processes as a resource in running illegal operations, focusing on the Chicago Heights “boys,” a critical component of the Chicago Outfit since the 1920s. Drawing on interviews, newspaper accounts, census materials and FBI files, Corsino demonstrates that for much of the 20th century, Italians in Chicago Heights experienced social, economic and political discrimination, resulting in social and geographic isolation. This isolation created a store of social capital, which Italians used to organize labor unions, mutual aid societies, ethnic enterprises—and an organized crime empire. Leaders in the Chicago Heights Outfit acquired a social capital advantage because they could draw upon the closed networks in the Italian community and, at the same time, envision a range of illegal opportunities because they occupied a series of “structural holes.”
Corsino has been teaching at North Central since 1998. He earned his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts.