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This question needs to be moved to the Social Sciences Discussion Forum! I am sure it will generate comments from a wide range of viewpoints.
Answering your question depends upon how you determine the meaning of "popular." There are more individuals who identify themselves as members of a gang than there were fifty years ago, for example, but the population in general has grown in that period of time. It is probable that gang activities or incidents related to gangs are receiving more publicity than would have been the case twenty years ago, but means of communication have changed radically and have greatly enhanced and speeded the sharing of news. The easiest comparison between gangs of the past and contemporary gangs might lie in understanding that
Today's gangs are more involved in serious criminal activities than their predecessors. Gang-related violence has risen sharply... In addition, the scope of gang activities has increased, often involving links to drug suppliers or customers in distant locations.
Whether this means gangs are "becoming more popular" is open to debate.
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