Sociological Reasons Behind Gang Violence In South Central Los Angeles

1386 words - 6 pages

Over the past 60 years there has been a recent phenomenon in the development and rise of gangs and gang violence. This is exceptionally apparent in South Central Los Angeles where the Bloods and the Crips have taken control of the social structure and created a new type of counter culture. Poverty in this area is an enormous problem caused by a shear lack of jobs; but just because there is a lack of jobs doesn’t mean that there will be a lack of bills to pay, so sometimes selling drugs in order to keep a roof over your head seems like the most logical option. Crime often times flourishes in these regions because the inconvenient truth is; crime pays. Senator Tom Hayden stated “It’s been defined as a crime problem and a gang problem but it’s really an issue of no work and dysfunctional schools.” this statement is in fact true, but with an exception it is a more broad issue than just involving school, and lack of jobs but goes beyond into social structure as a whole and more specifically the judicial system, this can all be supported by three sociologists Chambliss, Anderson, and Durkheim.
William J. Chambliss, a sociologist, wrote an article called The Saints and the Roughnecks. Chambliss discusses the Saints as a group of upper-middle class white kids who society perceived as good because of their social status’ and the fact that they were well dressed and well mannered. The roughnecks on the other hand, were not well mannered, and not- rich, who society recognized as troublemakers, even though they both act similarly. This can be connected to the Crips and the Bloods by the similar treatment the African Americans receive compared to the roughnecks. This recognition as being a roughneck makes it much more difficult to get a job, and escape the society they are currently in. Chambliss goes onto explain the tragic cycle that the roughnecks go through, stating “Once the boys acquired an image of themselves as deviants, they selected new friends who affirmed that self-image…this process will perpetuate itself unless some event external to the established relationship intervenes” (Chambliss 1973). The roughnecks follow a self-fulfilling prophecy of becoming bad because they see no other options available once society already labeled them as troublemakers, and they form a reference group to help perpetuate that image. This is the same for the people living in South Central Los Angeles; the police view them as deviants and treat them as if they were. Chambliss discusses a saint, Jerry who ended up not graduating high school and began to hang out with the roughnecks. “At the end of his second senior year, when he did graduate from high school…Jerry was unemployed and had been living on unemployment for almost a year” (Chambliss 1973). This is very similar to the way members of the South Central Society are treated, they are never given a chance to get a job and are stuck into the ascribed position that they were born into, they are forced to make money...

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