This paper will focus on the foundations which have led to the rise of mafia syndicates in Italy. I will provide three critical junctures which illustrate a period of significant change for the mafia. Chapter i explains the emergence of the mafia during the Unification of Italy from 1848 to 1870. Chapter ii highlights the state's efforts to mitigate the Sicilian mafia’s presence at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. Lastly, Chapter iii illustrates the expansion of ‘Ndrangheta mafia clans internationally and their ascendence to power from the 1990s to the present day. Using the research from the critical junctures, I will construct Chapter iv, which will be composed of five comparative theories followed by an analysis of each theory’s connection to the mafia. Theories will include social banditry, roving and stationary bandits, war and state-making, evolutionary dynamics of organizations, and evolutionary culture theory. My analysis will seek to establish what foundational elements are necessary to facilitate the mafia’s evolution and to understand what characteristics of the mafia allow them to maintain power and legitimacy.