Deviance And Crime
SOciOlogists and criminologists typically define a gllllg as a group of people. usually young. who band together for purposes generally considered to be deviant or criminal by the larger society, Throughout the past century. gang behavior has been of special interest to sociologists (see Puffer. 1912). who generally agree that youth gangs can be found in many setttngs- and among all racial and ethnic categories. U.S. government sources estimate that about 26.500 gangs. containing approximately 785.000 gang members, have been active in the United States in recent years. As unusual as it injtially !!lay sound. some Important similarities exist between you~ gangs and peer cliques. which are typically viewed as conform’ng to most social norms. At the most basic level. cliques are friendship circles. whose members identify one another as mutually connected (Adler and Adler. 1998).
However, diques are much more complex than this definition suggests. According to the sociologists Patricia A. Adler and Peter Adler (1998: 56). cliques “have a hierarchical structure, being dominated by leaders. and are exclusive in nature. so that not all individuals who desire membership are accepted:’ Moreover, sociologists have found that cliques function as “bodies of power” in schools by ‘”incorporating the most popular individuals, offering the most exciting social lives, and commanding the most interest and attention from classmates” (Adler and Adler, 1998: 56).
Although diques may have some similarities with gangs, there are also significant differences: Gangs playa large role in the economy of many low-income urban neighborhoods, where residents often believe that-they must do whatever is necessary to survive. Some activities in the underground economy include the performance of unregulated, unreported. and UITtaxed work, whereas others involve more widely recognized criminal activities such as the sale of drugs by gang members. According to Venkatesh (2006), one remarkable thing about studying deviance and crime in settings such as “Marquis Park”.(a pseudonym for a real Southside Chicago ,neighborhood) was learning that residents and gang members sometimes forge temporary alliances and engage in self-initiated policing
so that neighborhood children may play safely at the park or enjoy other everyday activities without fear of harm. Venkatesh’s study reveals people’s efforts to survive with the resources that they amass in the underground economy, as well as residents’ willingness to negotiate with gang members if it will help restore a sense of order to their neighborhood. This unique form of community policing often takes place without the assistance of law enforcement officials. In this chapter, we look at the relationship among conformity. deviance. and crime; even in times of national crisis and war. “everyday” deviance and crime occur as usual. People do not stop activities that might e viewed by others-or by law enforcement officials- as violating social norms. An example is gang behavior. which is used in this chapter as an example
of deviant behavior. For individuals who find a source of identity. self-worth. and a feeling of protection by virtue of gang membership. no radical change occurs in daily life even as events around them may change. Youth gangs have been present in the United States for many years because they meet perceived needs of members. Some gangs may be thought of as being very similar to youth cliques. whereas other gangs engage in activities that constitute crime. Before reading on. take the quiz on peer cliques. youth gangs. and deviance .