A synthesis about gangsWhat are the most important information about gangs that we can write, about why they form and who is attracted to gangs and why?

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think there is a compelling approach that argues gangs have arisen thanks to the way that society discriminates against certain groups of people. If we have a look at who makes up gangs, we can see that there is a very high percentage of working class ethnic minorities in gangs, which should make us ask why it is that these people feel attracted more to gangs than others. This should in turn make us think about our society and the way that certain groups are privileged compared to others that aren't.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Research shows that teens are attracted to gangs because of the element of power, among other reasons. This power can be what is called negative prestige, which is fear motivated, or regular prestige, which is dominance motivated.


brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I think the most important information about gangs would have to be the causes of gang membership. At this root cause lies the main impact point for any effort to combat gang activity. Gangs, despite their unpopularity with society, meet a social need. To combat gangs, the best way would be to offer alternatives for meeting those needs.
readerofbooks's profile pic

readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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What mightbe interesting to study is the hierarchies among gang culture. How are they structured? How do gangs in one city relate to gangs in other city? Keep in mind that some gangs have thousands of members. Also it would be interesting to study how gangs have evolved due to the technology explosion in our world. Finally, it would be worth considering what organized crimes or types of crimes gangs participate in. For example, are they prominent in trafficking people, evasion of taxes, and the like.

rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Gangs have been around a long time, including during periods when the US had a very strict immigration policy, so it's unclear to me what gang membership has to do with the Fourteenth Amendment. That aside, I think an interesting question might be what exactly constitutes a gang, and how has our definition of/attitudes toward gangs changed over time? At many points in our history firefighting organizations, political clubs, even organizations of artisans would have come very close to what we might imagine a gang to be today.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Do the immigrants, who mostly come from third world countries, join into gangs for protection or to intimidate?  This is a question worth exploring, too.  For, so many nowadays come to America in order to exploit the weakened, liberal government that, for instance, provides instant citizenship to babies born on US soil. 

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that it's important to note that many of the biggest gangs in the US now (ones like MS-13) are made up largely of immigrants.  This goes along with the idea that people join gangs so they can belong.  Since immigrants are looked down on to a large degree in the US today, it makes sense that immigrants would join them.

I would be very interested in comparing street gangs of today to the sorts of "organized crime" gangs that grew up out of the wave of immigration in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  I'd be interested in comparing and contrasting those two types of gangs.

vangoghfan's profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I agree with post # 2. It might also be interesting to explore whether gangs have grown in size and influence in recent decades, and it might be interesting to explore the history of gangs.  Have gangs always existed?  Did they exist, for instance, before the Civil War?  Are they products mostly of urban areas or can/do gangs also exist in great numbers in rural areas?  Are there female gangs? If so, what is the percentage of female gangs vs. male gangs? Are gangs always violent? As even this brief list will suggest, there are many interesting questions about gangs. However, perhaps the most important question is the one suggested above: what draws people to join gangs?

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The most important information about a gang would be the understanding regarding why gangs begin in the first place. Typically, gangs act as surrogate families. People who tend to join gangs feel as if they are not wanted by their family and do not feel important. The attraction of the gang is that they have a family and maintain a ranking within the gang. So, one could assume that a good topic about gangs would be their attraction to those wishing to join and the reasons made regarding joining.

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