Analyzing the Role of Women in Italian Mafias: the Case of the Neapolitan Camorra

Felia Allum, Irene Marchi

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9 Citations (SciVal)


Over the last twenty-five years, there has been a growing debate about the role of women in Italian Mafias. Using a qualitative approach, this article looks at the leadership roles of women in the Neapolitan Camorra covering the period 2000–2014. It argues that despite women’s high-ranking positions within mafia clans, their professional development is best explained not as a sign of “female emancipation” of Italian or Camorra women but rather as functional exploitation by the clan when resources are limited in times of crisis. Thus, conceptualizing Camorra women as a “reserve army” can be a more useful analytical framework to explain the leadership positions of the women who come to occupy relevant positions in the traditionally men-dominated Camorra clans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-380
Number of pages20
JournalQualitative Sociology
Issue number3
Early online date7 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • Emancipation
  • Female crime
  • Italian mafias
  • Mafia women
  • Reserve Army
  • The Neapolitan camorra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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