This article deals with housing illegality/informality in Italy, where it represents an established aspect of urban development. It presents a case study focused on Desio, a town close to Milan in northern Italy. Here housing illegality occurs by virtue of the well‐established presence of a mafia‐type criminal organization (the ‘Ndrangheta).

The paper deals with issues of corruption in the planning domain. It centres on thorough analysis of the case of Desio (Milan, Italy), where a recent judicial inquiry discovered several instances of corruption related to the drafting of the local master plan, in an environment characterised by the rooted presence …

Discussions of the illicit and the illegal have tended to be somewhat restricted in their disciplinary range, to date, and have been largely confined to the literatures of anthropology, criminology, policing and, to an extent, political science. However, these debates have impinged little on cognate literatures, not least those of …