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The paper looks at definitions of gangs and points out that an underlying theme of these definitions is that gangs are attractive to young adults because they get to be part of a group whose goals and ideals are bigger than themselves. The paper examines how gangs came about and how their composition has changed over the years. The paper notes that gangs are not merely one-dimensional juvenile delinquents, as they are often portrayed in the media, but they are also well-organized groups that have the ability to serve social purposes.
From the Paper:"An underlying theme of these definitions is that gangs are attractive to young adults because as they get to be part of a group whose goals and ideals are bigger than themselves (Branch, 1997). By joining a gang, the young adult or the adolescent feels that he belongs not just to a group but to a surrogate family (Gibbs, 2000). Harris (1994) states that through his gang, the member is given a "source of status, identity, cohesion, self-esteem, and a sense of belong" (Ruble & Turner, 2000, 118). Also, by sacrificing his own personal needs for those of his gang, he is also given a sense of purpose (Branch, 1997). Thus, he then gives his gang his loyalty by shunning the company of others and he pledges his "blind allegiance" (Branch, 1997) often engaging in fighting to protect his gang from outside threats and committing crimes and multiple forms of illegal activities (dealing drugs, stealing cars, and robbing homes) (Sheley, et al., 1995) just to serve the needs of his gang. In short, his gang becomes his entire life and he may eventually lose his life to his gang.
"How, then, did gangs come about? As Branch (1997) contends, gangs have existed since the days of knights. Gangs and communities were able to live in a "peaceful" coexistence, as long as neither violated the implicit terms of their relationship (i.e. doing harm to a powerful political family or police arresting cooperative informants) (Branch, 1997, 10). Gang members considered themselves as keepers or guardian of social morality (Branch, 1997). They were involved social control functions and were able to win over the moral support of the community (Branch, 1997)."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Branch, C. (1997). Chapter 1: Since the Days of Knights: Historical and Psychological Overview of Gangs. pp. 9-27. Perseus Books, LLC. Retrieved August 24, 2009, from Education Research Complete database.
- Branch, C. (1997). Chapter 2: Developmental Aspects of Gang Membership. pp. 28-43, Perseus Books, LLC. Retrieved August 24, 2009, from Education Research Complete database.
- Gibbs, Jewelle Taylor. (2000). Gangs as Alternative Transitional Structures: Adaptations to Racial and Social Marginality in Los Angeles and London. Journal of Multicultural Social Work, 8(1/2): 71-99. Retrieved August 24 2009, from Education Research Complete database
- Ruble, Nikki M. & Turner, William L. (2000). A Systematic Analysis of the Dynamics and Organization of Urban Street Gangs. The Americal Journal of Family Therapy, 28(2): 117-132. Retrieved August 25 2009, from Education Research Complete database.
- Salagaev A.L. & Shashkin A.V. (2005). Youth Gangs: Experience from a Pilot Survey. Russian Education and Society, 47(12): 61- 75. Retrieved August 24 2009, from Education Research Complete database
Cite this Term Paper:
Gangs: A Socio-Historical Study (2012, January 12) Retrieved March 08, 2021, from https://www.academon.com/term-paper/gangs-a-socio-historical-study-149924/
"Gangs: A Socio-Historical Study" 12 January 2012. Web. 08 March. 2021. <https://www.academon.com/term-paper/gangs-a-socio-historical-study-149924/>