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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200264 Find in a Library
Title: Gangs and Social Change
Journal: Theoretical Criminology  Volume:7  Issue:2  Dated:May 2003  Pages:191-216
Author(s): Martin Sanchez-Jankowski
Date Published: May 2003
Page Count: 26
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Focusing on gangs in the United States, this paper identifies and discusses common and differing characteristics of gangs over five historical eras.
Abstract: Five critical periods have affected the social and organizational development of gangs in the United States over the last 150 years. Beginning in the 18th century, gangs were associated with the lower classes of the various immigrant groups in the United States. Lower class economic and social status was the main reason youths formed gangs and became involved in delinquent behavior. During the 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's, significant opportunities existed for working-class kids to secure working-class jobs. Under the conditions of repetitive, monotonous, and boring assembly-line labor, youth gangs emerged to provide a social haven for youth to experience fun and pleasure before assuming jobs and a lifestyle they dreaded. Gang activities were oriented toward securing financial resources necessary to fund leisure activities for gang members. Through the 1970's and 1980's, gangs became involved in various ways in the drug retail trade. It was the combination of shrinking market opportunities in the production sector of the economy and the expanding market opportunities in both the production and retail illicit drug economy that motivated youths from varied ethnic groups to become involved in gangs. More recently, as street gangs have become more involved in the drug industry and as law enforcement policies have become tougher, the number of street gang members who are imprisoned has increased. Street gangs have become more assimilated into prison gangs, which are adult-organized crime syndicates. With the opening of new drug markets, gangs have behaved like any other capitalist-oriented organization. They have attempted to monopolize the various drug products and the markets wherein they are exchanged. This behavior has been and will continue to be aggressive and violent. To understand the gang phenomenon in the United States, it is necessary to consider that socioeconomic conditions of American society have continually changed, usually becoming worse for the lower class; and the structures associated with these changes have produced rational changes in the gang phenomenon. 2 notes and 75 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile/Youth Gangs
Index Term(s): Drug smuggling; Economic influences; Employment; Gang involvement in organized crime; Gang violence; Immigrants/Aliens; Juvenile gang behavior patterns; Social conditions
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