I think that this story could happen in any setting where some primary conditions are met. The first would be a setting where there is some level of stratification or perceived distinction between groups. This is almost universal, as each region where people are posses a sense of distance between people, an idea that specific individuals are not as "good" as another. Another element which must be present is the idea of disaffected and alienated youth who seek to find one another in the hope of finding something better than what is. Indeed, this is another level of distinction which makes the work rather universal. There is little that Hinton indicates which makes the work geographically more relevant than anything else.
Although gang activity decreased in America during the 1970s, it has obviously increased dramatically during the past two decades. Although The Outsiders presumably took place in author S. E. Hinton's hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, gangs can now be found in small towns in addition to large cities. The greasers may seem tame by today's standards, since they mostly carried knives and relied on broken bottles and their fists; many 21st century gang members would not be caught without some form of handgun or automatic weapon. Most of the greasers in The Outsiders had little money for fancy cars, while most gangs today ride in style. Hinton's greasers seemed to be more interested in fun and the occasional fisticuffs to pass their time, while murder, rape and robbery are certainly more prevalent with today's gangs.
I do not think that there is anything in particular about Tulsa, Oklahoma that makes it so that it would be the only place this story could be set. To me, the issues the teens face are common to teenagers everywhere. For that reason, the story could happen anywhere.
The basic issue the teens face in the story is whether they will be accepted for who they are. This is an issue that teens face everywhere. Similarly, there is the potential for teen violence everywhere. So I do not think this story is in any major way tied to its setting.
Sure, this story could have happened in another place and setting. Adolescents have been struggling to find their identity for a long time. People who are isolated from love in their homes often seek out the support of a tight group of friends who can relate to them. If there were not such as strong need for this type of a connection gangs would not be faring so well.
Gang rivalry has been existing ever sice the Mafioso. While the Greasers may not have committed the level of violence that gangs of today often exhibit, they were connected by some significant things that still hold in realtionships today.
- Low self-esteem, being an outsider did not exactly let them feel good about themselves.
- Poor grades in school. Difficulty fitting in to the school environment.
- Abusive and poor role models in the home setting.
- Living in a close vicinity of one another.
- Targeting alternate lifestyles.
- A core identity hat gives the members confidence.
- The feeling of belonging in the gang.