The Kefauver Committee and the politics of crime, 1950-1952
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In 1950, the essentials of two distinct interpretations of organized crime existed side by side in the United States. One was essentially socioeconomic, one conspiratorial. The Kefauver Crime Committee of 1950-1951 was to play a vital role in orienting both professional and popular opinion toward a conspiracy interpretation. In doing so, the Committee ignored the nascent but promising body of sociological literature, and it dismissed out of hand the economic and legal arguments for regulation. In years to come, its widely heralded reports provided the essential material for college textbooks and journalistic accounts and became a model for the McClellan investigation and other official studies. This effort was intended as a study of the Committee and not of crime.
Table of Contents
The American approach to organized crime -- The postwar crime scare -- The creation of the committee -- The wire service story -- The mafia as myth -- The politics of crime -- The New York crime show -- The decline of the committee -- The committee's legacy