gangs - Gangs Final Paper December 12, 2007 The two...

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Gangs Final Paper December 12, 2007 The two theories that I believe best characterize inner-city gangs and gang violence are the Social Disorganization/Ecology and Labeling Theories. No single theory can fully explain any social phenomenon, so I chose these two theories because they approach gangs and criminality with completely different perspectives and focus on differing aspects of development and maintenance of criminal activity in the form of gangs. The Social Disorganization Theory is one of the oldest and most widely-accepted theories relating to delinquency and criminal activity. Social Ecology Theory is connected with the social disorganization theory, and focuses on the distribution of crime in terms of geographic or spatial areas. Its basis lies in cartography—mapmaking—which was used to plot locations of criminal activity. The Chicago School of sociology based much of its criminology theory on this premise of the geographic distribution of crime. With the city of Chicago as their laboratory, researchers noted varied delinquency and crime rates throughout different areas and neighborhoods. Areas with other social problems, like unemployment, low education levels, single-parent families and so on, often had the highest rates of delinquent and criminal activities. The common sociological premise that society comes first and individuals rise from it holds true in this situation: the high crime rates persisted over long periods of time in the same areas, regardless of who lived there (Stark, 1987). This idea takes blame from the individuals in gangs and places it on society and her “bad neighborhoods”. Another facet of the social disorganization theory is the concentric zone model. This model described five zones of the city: the central business district, zone in
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transition, zone of workingmen’s homes, residential zone, and commuter zone (Shaw, 1942). Political and economic forces move outwards from the central business district to generate growth in the city; this growth occurs in circles or concentric waves. Studies showed that crime rates were highest in the first three zones, regardless of who lived there. Social problems like unemployment, infant mortality, poverty, and mental illness were also found to be more prevalent in these zones. Immigration, industrialization, and urbanization lead to a dismantling of residents’ sense of community because their local institutions are weak. However, it is crucial to understand how these zones develop and realize such a concentration of social problems is not inevitable or natural. Rather, urban planners, politicians, and other such powerful groups in cities take actions which create
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gangs - Gangs Final Paper December 12, 2007 The two...

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