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Gangs in America

What are the functions that gangs fulfill (the needs they meet)? Imagine that you have been hired as an urban planner by a large city such as Los Angeles. How could you arrange to meet the needs that gangs fulfill in a way that would minimize violence? How could you encourage members to follow mainstream norms?

Explain deviance such as street gangs from all three of the main sociological perspectives. Be certain to use all three major sociological theories - functionalism, conflict theory, and interactionism - in your analysis. Please include references. This is an essay with which I am working on. I have a hard time grasping this theory thing and how it pertains to particular situations.

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Hi,

Interesting essay assignment! One approach is to look at each question in the assignment, beginning with the the theories and how they apply to gangs and then how these theories suggest causes and solutions to the violence and gang activity. This is the approach this response takes. Each perspective has many different theorists, but all theories within a perspective have a common thread of the underlying assumptions of that perspective.

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RESPONSE:

1. What are the functions that gangs fulfill (the needs they meet)? Imagine that you have been hired as an urban planner by a large city such as Los Angeles. How could you arrange to meet the needs that gangs fulfill in a way that would minimize violence? How could you encourage members to follow mainstream norms? Explain deviance such as street gangs from all three of the main sociological perspectives. Be certain to use all three major sociological theories - functionalism, conflict theory, and interactionism - in your analysis. Please include references. This is an essay with which I am working on. I have a hard time grasping this theory thing and how it pertains to particular situations.

Since you are having some difficulty with the theories, let's look at the three main theories first. Looking at the theories helps to understand the factors that play into gang membership, which suggests potential needs that are not being addressed in the conventional way. As an urban planner by a large city, such as Los Angeles, the place to start would be to research the potential causes of gang membership and the needs that are being filled by the gangs that you have to consider meeting in a more conventional way.

1. Functionalism:

Durkheim is a functionalist. He argued that when humans gather together in intense interaction, with high levels of co-presence, common emotional mood and common focus of attention - they produce high levels of emotional energy, which produces a sacred symbol, to create rituals (patterns of behavior intended to replicate the first three elements). The symbols not only allow the youth to focus their attention and recall the emotional mood, they give the collective emotional stability, including gangs. These type of symbols and rituals create a moral bond; that is, many of the behaviors, the speech patterns, styles of dress, and so on become the standard of what is defined as right and wrong. Groups with high moral boundaries are hard to get in an out of. Street gangs are a good example of a group with high moral boundaries (as are the Nazis). Functionalists use the term moral, even though most us would argue that there is nothing ethical or moral about gang activity. However, the term moral is NOT used to mean good. Rather. a group is moral if its beliefs, feeling, speech, style of dress and so on, are controlled by strong group norms and are viewed in terms of right and wrong. Thus, the gang norms control the youth. ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses the functions that a gang fulfills (the needs they meet), and based on the scenario, explains what to do to meet the needs that gangs fulfill in a way that would minimize violence, as well as how to encourage members to follow mainstream norms. It explains deviance such as street gangs from the three major sociological theories - functionalism, conflict theory, and interactionism. References are included as well as two supplementary articles for further research on gangs and crime theories.

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