The book is an absolute must for any study on gangs and should also be seriously considered for studies on delinquency and more broadly for education on deviance and studies of race and race relations. The photo essays in the final section can move you by the dramatic and stark realities.
The essays in Gangs and Society transcend typical studies of gangs in using a qualitative methodology. Drugs and violence are categorically accepted as deviant or criminal. Gangs and Society is a refreshing, timely and thought-provoking reader which confronts contemporary media imagery and stereotypical views of gangs.
It seems as though the gang is simply another workplace in a capitalist society. First, although many of the essays use Marxist analysis, they do not attempt to develop any comprehensive Marxist theory of gangs, remaining anchored instead in a kind of ecological and social-control orientation.
In a time when media imagery focusing on criminal behavior of gangs and on individual pathology of gang members is ubiquitous, Kontos, Brotherton and Barrios sharply challenge the associated stereotypes.
He examines the relationship of gangs to drugs and asserts that gangs largely mirror the corporate structure and functions of the more formal capitalist economy—from a reserve pool of potential labor, and corporate disregard of communities, to the exploitative relationship between owners and workers.
The fourth section provides a glimpse into the lives of women in relation to gangs. Rather than challenging this as a construct of the state, the various authors work to demonstrate how both are simply minor aspects in the cultural life of the people studied.
If gangs fascinate you or if you simply want to get past the hype of the mainstream media and the unrelenting connection between gangs and drugs replicated by police, academics and popular cultureyou will find this book very illuminating.
This gives the work a narrower focus than the title suggests. Columbia University Press, Alternative Perspectives New York: I am also disappointed in the range of gangs studied. Finally, section six contains photo essays with very dramatic and compelling illustrations of life for a number of people involved in gangs.
Sudhir Venkatesh, in the opening chapter, reviews the multifaceted critical approaches of urban sociological analysis from the early Chicago School particularly ecological analysesand reminds us that individualistic crime-oriented approaches fail to take into account real inequities.
Kontos, Brotherton and Barrios bring together a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of gangs. Employing a classical Durkheimian approach, Barrios examines religion from the perspective of liberation theology, looking at its effect on the structure and solidarity of gangs.
This collection of fifteen articles examines the question of gangs in society from a critical criminology perspective, challenging orthodox criminological and sociological approaches. It demonstrates that to understand gangs one has to go beyond simply examining the etiology of crime.
However, there is little analysis of the situation these youth face and certainly no contextualization into the broader socio-political structure of US capitalism and, to paraphrase Althusser, of an omnipresent repressive state apparatus. While I have a number of criticisms of the various chapters, I believe that Kontos, Brotherton and Barrios offer an overall positive contribution to the study of gangs.
While I believe most people would categorically abhor violence, the state simply criminalizes violent actions of the gang in an attempt to maintain its own monopoly over the use of violence as a means for social control.
A further gap, in view of the way most states define gangs legally, is the lack of a fully developed discussion of groups of youth targeted by the state under the guise of anti-gang enforcement—particularly when issues of race and class are at the core and the majority of the youth are targeted simply for being in groups of three or more.
Ric Curtis, in an especially significant contribution, demonstrates the usefulness of a Marxist-informed theoretical framework as an analytical starting point.
Gangs and Society is divided into six sections. I would not justify or legitimize gang-banging or other forms of violence, but there is certainly no organization in our society which comes close to the level of state violence exercised by the police.
Finally, Gangs and Society is worth reading for its own sake as an engaging application of neo-Marxist analysis. The next section examines how individual agency is fostered and alternative avenues for youth are created through religion and education.
As for drugs, I believe it to be hypocritical to talk of drugs such as marijuana as socially disruptive or criminal when the state, acceding to the demands of corporate power, keeps products such as tobacco, alcohol and certain prescription drugs easily available despite their adverse effects on individuals and society.Apr 26, · Functionalism is one of the most longstanding and best used sociological theories in this field.
Essentially, functionalism posits the notion that society operates somewhat like the human body, with a variety of necessary functions and measures to enable it to reach a state of stability.
professionals. So from the functionalist view, gangs and deviance is necessary for all societies to function properly. (Delaney, ) I personally think the functionalist perspective is a bunch of nonsense. The world would function a whole lot better without any criminal activity in it%(2).
This essay will seek to underline the key influences of gang life in New Zealand and its effect on society from a functionalist perspective, employing Erik Durkheim’s theories, New Zealand sociologist expertise and other affiliated sources. A sociologist looking at gangs from the functionalist perspective would try to determine whether gangs contribute to social stability or detract from it.
Gangs and Society: Alternative Perspectives Posted on April 16, by sdonline Louis Kontos, David Brotherton and Luis Barrios, eds., Gangs and Society: Alternative Perspectives (New York: Columbia University Press, ).
To those people, a gang provides identity, status, and love, among other things, in turn they develop loyalty to the gang they join. Conflict Theorist Perspective. Regarding gangs, a conflict theorist would see this social issue as a pattern of domination, submission, and struggle between people of high and low standing (Brym and Lie 10).Download