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There seems to be a misconception that gangs fall under the subculture category. However, there is a distinct difference between the two. Gangs are made up of a group of “members”, consisted of the ringleaders and a number of lesser followers (Nwalozie, 2015). A subculture on the other hand is a group of people that share in their actions, values, style, imagery, and lifestyles. A good example of this are places like Chinatown or Little Italy. These areas are still considered a part of the community, but they are also separated from the larger the broader culture. Gang members on the other hand do not necessarily maintain the same styles, values, or lifestyles, especially when you consider the hierarchy. However, while the separate gangs themselves may not be seperate subcultures, delinquency itself is considered to be one (Nwalozie, 2015).
There can be many reasons as to why someone would join a gang. It could “run in the family”, be a means to reaching a certain goal, mean a way out of poverty, or, perhaps most often, simply give them a place to feel as though they belong. This sense of belonging gives the youths a sense of protection and comrady as the group decides on actions to take and perform these together (Nwalozie, 2015). I think that if the youths feel as though they are outcasts, do not fit in with family or in social circles, they are more likely to search for these connections through other means. Often times, this can lead to delinquent activity. Just because someone comes from a middle class family, does not mean that they do not feel like they are getting all of the connections they feel they need at home and school. Where lower income neighborhoods, youths would likely end up in a gang because they are seeking safety and a sense of family, a middle class youth could land themselves in a gang due to a lack of parental interaction, rebellion, or perhaps even because of lack of parental morals. I found it quite surprising that youths from a broken home were considered less likely to act out negatively. A broken home is considered any home were a youth resides that does not contain both biological married parents (Grinnell & Chambers, 1979).
I have never heard of a sorority being related to gangs, however, I can see a connection. The new recruits have to undergo certain actions, that are determined by the higher ups, in order to be considered a part of the group. Despite the unpleasant actions they need to take, the new recruits go with it in order to feel welcomed into the group. This often feels like a sense of family and a form of protection and can even boost their current or future prospects due to their association. Sounds a lot like the characteristics of a gang to me, though sororities are less prone to openly commit crimes. I still believe that gangs are more closely related to low income neighborhoods, but obviously, it can be seen in other communities as well and in different concepts, like the sororities.
A subculture is a subdivision within the dominant culture that has its own norms, beliefs, and values. As research confirms, norms, beliefs, and values are instilled at a young age. Adolescents are easily influenced and embrace cultural norms based on exposure. The majority believes negative behavior is learned, not a genetic composition from birth. A lack of knowledge and understanding of the dominant culture may misguide juveniles to believe their subculture is superior and justified. Poverty and a lack of opportunities creates a void that needs to be filled. Combined with abusive parenting, juveniles are more likely to development externalizing problems that’ll lead them towards a negative path. According to this week’s lesson, a subculture is about belonging and alliance building among peers within a larger group (n.d.). It’s human nature to seek comfort amongst others and comfort is no better discovered and enabled than a subculture of likeminded individuals. A gang fills the void by providing a sense of brotherhood and purpose. A strong bond provides gang members with motive despite the harsh realities of the task at hand. Similar to the wall of blue, members within a subculture will do anything for their family, and family is not limited to blood.
Parental guidance and approval are associated with low levels of externalizing behavior, while the reserve is true in regards to coercive behaviors, such as physical punishment (Pinquart, 2017). Without a doubt, harsh parenting negatively influences children and aids in predetermining their future, but to claim harsh parenting is the sole source for one’s reason to display criminal behavior can be an overreach. External factors such as low-income households, physical location, and opportunity availabilities play a factor in one’s motivation to seek comfort within a gang. Lebron James and Kevin Hart, infamous individuals organic to their respective professions defied the odds and displayed perseverance. Documentaries have captured their life story and aired it on national television as proof of hope and to remind disadvantaged individuals to deflect negative influence and seek a positive subculture. Equal opportunity exists amongst Americans. Everyone will not start in the same place because of external factors, but the opportunity to succeed remains available to the motivated individual. A handful of professional athletes are examples of defiance and perseverance, a ‘rags to riches’ story. Abusive parenting has no boundaries and can exist in all households regardless of class. Middle class delinquency is encouraged by peer pressure and trending deeds. A band of brothers is then created and a desire to maintain the family bond is nearly inseparable. A strong subculture appeals to minors’ who command attention in the absence of a sufficient household. It is at the young minds discretion to determine which subculture he/she wants to be involved with. Minors who exhibit delinquency are vulnerable to negative influence.
Gang members adopt a criminal mindset in order to survive and provide for their immediate family. Gang members are convinced of their life purpose and target recruits who seek purpose and belonging. Children who experience violent conditions in and out of the household are susceptible because they are naïve to, and lack positive injections. Education and opportunities for both parents and their children are vital to decreasing gang participation. Sports, academic, musical, and other teams are subcultures that shine a positive light. Positive subcultures can provide corrections and steer juveniles towards success in the dominant culture.
APUS (n.d.). Lesson 3: Subcultures & social control theory. Retrieved from https://edge.apus.edu/portal/site/421292/tool/125f…
Pinquart, M. (2017). Associations of parenting dimensions and styles with externalizing problems of children and adolescents: An updated meta-analysis. Developmental Psychology, 53(5), 873-932. Retrieved from doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy1.apus.edu/10.1037/dev000…
Gangs are usually formed by ethnic or culturally similar people. Gang members often have many shared likes and tastes, including life experiences, food, language, music, and more. There is a myriad of factors that significantly affect a middle-class teen to join a gang. These motivation factors can be further defined as the community domain, family domain, school domain, peer group domain, and the individual domain (NCPC, 2007). Each domain consists of several risk factors. For example, in the community domain, one of the most significant risk factors to join a gang is the presence of gangs in the neighborhood (Curry & Spergel, 1992). Middle-class teens join gangs mostly for status, popularity, respect, and a sense of belonging denied to them in the other areas of their lives. Another risk factor influencing gang membership is the family domain. In this domain, family disorganization, troubled families, family members in a gang, or lack of adult male role models or parental role models play a significant role in gang-involvement (NCPC, 2007).
Some of the middle-class delinquency is also the result of an interaction between certain aspects of our overall cultural system and an emerging teenage system (Palo Alto, 2001). The middle-class teenagers are usually faced with contradictory expectations. They are not expected to engage in productive labor but are encouraged to loaf, discouraged from early marriage, but are allowed to engage in flirting. They cannot vote, hold public office, or even serve on a jury, but are expected to be civic-minded. They are given many privileges and a considerable measure of individual freedom, but without the obligatory ties significant to others, which help keep privilege and freedom from deteriorating (Juvenile Justice Bulletin, 1998). The new generations seemingly grow without national and spiritual values. The current curriculum does not seem to appeal to our children’s spirits. Therefore, schools have turned into shelters of the unemployed, shelters of gangs, and places where drug dealers reign. A recent study reveals that almost seventeen percent of American teens drink, smoke, and use drugs during the day. Ninety percent of students acknowledge that they know where to get drugs during the school day (Fitzgerald, 2012).
Undoubtedly, alcohol consumption and sex are additional motivational factors among the middle-class youth. This is a time of change for them, and their bodies are being subjected to everchanging levels of hormones, preparing them for adulthood. In this way, the gang environment provides a fraternity-like environment and culture, enabling them to shed some of the stresses associated with the very physical changes taking place (Myerhoff, 1964). Gangs, like fraternities, include initiation rituals and group exclusion. They also promote superficial expression of their group, which includes certain bandanas, hats, T-shirts, and secret handshakes and signs. The major distinguishing factor between fraternities and gangs is largely their financial statuses. For the most part, fraternity members thrive from well-to-do backgrounds while gang members often face poverty, sometimes in its cruelest forms. It is this circumstance that primarily leads the variation in their actions and even the media’s reaction to their actions. Many think that a gang provides the setting for the gang member’s own self-identity while offering them self-protection and a source of friendship. While this is true at some level, ultimately, a gang member is typically forced to pursue “evil.” Some middle-class teenagers really want to make friends, live the feeling of belonging to a person or a group, and have someone they can feel close to while existing in what they perceive to be an adventurous setting.
Curry, G. D., & Spergel, I. A. (1992). Gang involvement and delinquency among Hispanic and African-American adolescent males. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 29(3), 273–291. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/0022427892029003002
Fitzgerald, Eillen (Aug 2012). More teens using drugs at school, study shows. Retrieved from https://www.newstimes.com/local/article/More-teens-using-drugs-at-school-study-shows-3811037.php
Juvenile Justice Bulletin (August 1998). Why Do Youth Join Gangs? Retrieved from https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh176/files/jjbulletin/9808/why.html
Myerhoff, H., & Myerhoff, B. (1964). Field Observations of Middle Class “Gangs.” Social Forces, 42(3), 328–336. https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/42.3.328
Palo Alto (Jan, 2001). Adolescent Emerging Issues. Retrieved from https://www.paloaltoonline.com/weekly/morgue/cover/2001_Jan_31.YOUTH260.html
The National Crime Prevention Center (NCPC) (2007). Building the Evidence – Youth gangs. Retrieved from https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/yth-gng-nvlvmnt/yth-gng-nvlvmnt-eng.pdf