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Rational choice theory

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Rational choice theory

Category: Essay

Subcategory: Criminal Justice

Level: College

Pages: 2

Words: 550

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Rational Choice Theory and the Godfather
According to the rational choice theory, people consider the risks of detection and punishments before committing crimes. They also look at the rewards of successfully completing the crimes. For instance, a bank teller in financial difficulty may decide to siphon off money from the bank increase his earnings or a young man who decides to deal in cocaine to make money because the social opportunities within his area of residence are minimal. Rational choice theory can explain the rise of the Mafia. Organized crime becomes a rational choice for individuals from low-income areas with financial difficulties (Gottschalk, 50). A police force that is corrupt also provides a conducive environment for the vice. This paper critically examines how the film ‘The Godfather’ relates to the rational choice theory; paying close attention to Don Vito Corleone, the Mafia boss.
As stated earlier, people engage in criminal activity after considering the risks of detection and punishment for their crimes. In the Godfather, young Vito escapes from Sicily to America after Don Ciccio, the local Mafia boss kills both his parents and wants to kill him too. While in New York City, young Vito Corleone loses his job at a grocery store. Faced with a difficult financial situation, he joins Clemenza and Tessio, and the three form a gang to steal furniture and clothing and sell them to earn money.
The rational choice theory argues that the highest moral purpose of existence is individual happiness. Guided by selfish reasons, one places self above others even when it means surrendering the right to the wrong. Vito loses his job at a grocery store, in New York City, after the local Mafia boss, Don Fanucci forces the owner of the store to hire his nephew. Vito then joins Clemenza and Tessio to form a gang to steal and sell furniture. Don Fanucci demands that the gang must give him a cut. Vito vows to take care of Fanucci and later kills him. Both Fanucci and Vito are guided by selfish reasons. Don Fanucci puts his self-interests above anything else when he orders the grocery store owner to hire his nephew, and the gang to give him a cut. Vito chooses to kill Fanucci – evil over good, in order to become the new local Mafia boss. He returns to Sicily and kills Don Ciccio to become the new Mafia boss.
Greed is the number one motivator for organized crime. Money plus other financial gains are weighed against the likely consequences, and a rational decision made. When the criminal activity is attractive and attracts high financial returns, Mafia families will choose it. A New York gangster, Sollozzo, Barzinis family and Tattaglias family are involved in narcotics trafficking and want to involve the Corleone family. Sollozzo knows that Vito is rich and enjoys the support of powerful politicians and judges. To join the scheme, Vito has to assure Sollozzo of protection through his connections and financially. Vito rejects the offer because he is sceptic about Sollozzo and hates drug trafficking.
Members of an organized criminal group will find it rational to engage in criminal activity in an environment with few restrictions. Some of the factors that favour the selection of an area include accessibility, few police patrols, and low security (Vito & Maahs, 64). Don Fanucci was able to control New York because he had the support of the police. Back in Sicily, Don Vito Corleone enjoyed the support of the police, powerful judges and politician. He engaged in criminal activities without fear of the consequences and anyone who challenged him would be ‘given an offer he cannot refuse.’
Works Cited
BIBLIOGRAPHY Gottschalk, Petter. White-Collar Crime: Detection, Prevention and Strategy in Business Enterprises. New York: Universal Publishers, 2010.
Vito, Gennaro F. and Jeffrey R. Maahs. Criminology: Theory, Research, and Policy. New York: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2011.

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