The book covers the fieldwork done with active gang members as well as family members. It describes the process of joining, the gang attractiveness, and the usage of drugs, their drinking, their activities that are predominant, and their loose and chaotic organization. The authors go further to describe their involvement in serious crimes of property and their drug trafficking disorganized participation. He also evaluates their violent life style’s fatal consequences. Although most of the books focus lays on the organizational, institutional s involvement in other neighborhood and school structures. The insights towards the lives of those people who are members of the gang provided in the book come from extensive interviews with members of the family.
The book’s dependence on the perspective of the members of the gang in a city faced by a problem of emerging gangs distinguishes its work from previous gang studies. The book covers the gang structure, gang expansions and the activities of the gang (Deccker and Winkle 3). According to this book, the gangs have been an object of study for over 100 tears. The awareness of the existence of these gangs is available on the media; television, movies, stories in the news papers, and ion the radio are the first hand sources of information about the gangs.
There are four demographic and social factors associated with an increase in formation of gangs: immigration, ethnicity, poverty, and urbanization. Each of these factors brings about rapid changes in the city populations composition and economic composition (Deccker and Winkle 2). The book also describes a little history of the gangs. It states how the gangs emerged in times of the 1930 depression through the Second World War and came to its peak during the 1950s. During the 1930 depression and second war, it received little attention from the authorities making them grow at a remarkably fast rate.
According to the findings of this book, people get involved in gang activities are mostly the low class people. These people claim to join the gangs because the middle class standards judge them. The middle class society judge these youths as ill equipped to work and join the working class, as a result, these lower class boys, get frustrated on the issue of status goals achievement. In a bid to resolve these concerns of the status, they start delinquent activities and group themselves in groups affiliated with the gang (Deccker and Winkle 27). The book states that, since the success opportunities get different distribution in the neighborhood, many young people lack access to these fundamental goals achievement in the society. As a result, this brings about three adaptation forms: property gangs, retreats gangs, or conflict gangs. These adaptations depend on the opportunities available level and the level of integration of these youths by the neighborhood.
The book also looks into the controversy on the first usage of the term gang in referring to organized offenders aggregation. It describes gangs to have stemmed from broader activities of the youth groups, especially the games (Deccker and Winkle 115). The book found out that, in social associations of the youth, spontaneous activities come from the youths’ everyday activities. The books interests laid their focus on those youth activities of property and violent crimes, labeled the gangs. Despite these groups’ involvement criminal and illegal activities, the book finds out that there is considerable overlap of these groups’ activities and those of social clubs.
According to this book, it is crucial to distinguish the genuine and legitimate group adolescent activities from those with consistent illegal characteristics. This is because a lot adolescent young people hold their activities in the form of groups. Moreover, the book found the need to also to distinguish groups the young juveniles who perpetrate in crimes in the streets from the organized adult crime groups, commonly known as the organized criminals (Deccker and Winkle 215). In the book, the result of three years, comprehensive study on gangs in the declining city of St. Louis, Missouri in Midwestern is made available. The researchers recruited, observed and interviewed gang members that are active and their families, as well. The study took place in a strategic period when there existed increased cases of rapid growth in the number of gang members as well as the number of gangs in this city. This enabled the authors to provide information about the expansion and the origin of the gangs.
The source of cohesiveness amongst the group members as outlined in this book is said to be attributed to internal and external sources. That is it is not the internal mechanisms that increase the strength of the bond amongst group members, but the external factors response. The author noted that, that there are a few goals of the gang existing outside the external pressures generation, and that the existing internal norms of the gang were transient and weak (Deccker and Winkle). The cohesion of external forces are structural (unemployment, weak socialization of family, and poverty), but they also included other gangs interaction pressures. This is like in the case of violence threat from another gang which tends to increase in-group solidarity. This means that the possible victims of violence from a gang are members of another gang.
The conclusion of the book is that intervention programs to reduce the gangs in the streets tend to achieve the opposite of its goals. They make the gangs attractive instead of defaming them, promoting more crimes and violence by enhancing their cohesiveness and solidarity. However, it is difficult to distinguish between the gang structures characteristics from any other adolescent street culture features (Deccker and Winkle 275). This is because most the gang members share most of these features commonly with other non gang adolescents.
The author identifies three types of gangs in his research: violent gangs, delinquent gangs, and the social gangs. The violent gang is the most problematic and persistent in a society. It is obvious that, in every society, violence is an issue of concern that is persistent and needs to be addressed. The violent gang is a threat to safety, hence draws a lot of protection efforts from its members (Deccker and Winkle 314). It has a formal character and a structure that is loose; for instance, there is the emergence of gang leaders and a great deal of emphasis laid on membership within the subgroups rather than the groups that are larger. Violence, which defines the characteristics of members of this gang, occurs mostly on senseless matters and occurs often in response to threats against their gang territory. Membership to these gangs fulfilled the psychological needs of the youths that they could not achieve from the larger society.