Ethnic Studies Gangs Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3018 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children

Ethnic Studies - Gangs

Today's diverse groupings of ethnic youth in the United States are individuals of a wide range of characteristics and never has this group been quite so diverse. These groups are comprised of individuals who do not understand the ideology of what the 'American Dream' is truly composed of and it is likely that due to non-engagement of these youth in positive civic activities and alternatively viewing them as 'gangs' that they will never understand that the 'American Dream' includes safe neighborhoods for children to grow up in and that this lack of understanding will perpetuate this framework of thought in society.

The rationale for the following study is the dissemination of the literature reporting ethnic case studies on the gangs in today's cities and insofar as the 'root' of the problem and ultimately to determine what might be done to address this problem effectively. It is necessary to understand that these adolescent individuals in today's American cities are in a critical stage of their development process and is a time when their very sense of self is forming.


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The work of Maureen P. Duffy and Scott Edward Gillig (2004) entitled: "Teen Gangs" states the fact that presently "there is no clear, widely shared definition of what constitutes a youth gang. Neither are there clear criteria for establishing who is a gang member and who is not." The result is that in the area of social science research "the absence of a consensually shared definition of a youth gang is problematic in developing even basic descriptions of gangs." (Duffy and Gillig, 2004) Because of this "social science researchers, theorists, youth workers, government policymakers and the public" are therefore "operating from different understanding of what constitutes a youth gang." (Duffy and Gillig, 2004)

TOPIC: Term Paper on Ethnic Studies Gangs Assignment

The study to follow examines gangs in terms of ethnic origins of these gangs. A report from the Runnymede Trust has found that "attempts to label youth violence as a 'gang problem' is likely to result in the police and youth services failing to take effective actions to prevent the problem and further creates the risk of criminalizing all youth and this is particularly true where it relates to young men who are black.

It is reported that Dr. Claire Alexander wrote a reports that states the conclusions as follows:

(1) While the 'gang' label may be appropriate in a few very specific cases, given the difficulty in agreeing definition and usage, it would be better to abandon this term completely. Certainly 'the gang' should not provide a basis for welfare intervention, legal categorization or punitive sentencing;

(2) While the 'gang' might make sense in an American context, interventions on the streets of LA are not transferable to the streets of the UK;

(3) There does not seem to be any boundary between young people socializing together in public spaces and 'gang' activity -- causing groups of young people to be viewed as automatically suspicious. 'Gangs' are regularly identified as 'cultural' and then attached to particular ethnic groups. The effect is that 'communities' are criminalized on the basis of their 'cultures';

(4) Intervention into youth conflict needs to be made on the basis of empirically grounded evidence, local understanding and expertise; and (5) Youth initiatives should avoid the labeling and criminalization of young people as 'gang members', and resist the linking of state funded youth initiatives to a 'gang prevention' agenda. Youth initiatives must respond to the real needs of young people in our communities, not just those who fit the image of 'the gangster'." (Runnymede Trust, nd)

I. Ethnic Study -- El Dorado (New York City Neighborhood)

The work entitled: "Dreams, Gangs and Guns: The Interplay Between Adolescent Violence and Immigration in a New York City Neighborhood" reported by Mateu-Gelabert (2002) reports an ethnic study of gangs in the neighborhood of "El Dorado" which is a codename for a New York City neighborhood which has historically "been the first stop in the United States for many immigrants." (Mateu-Gelabert, 2002) Mateu-Gelabert states of this neighborhood that "the surplus of new immigrants, the majority of them from the Dominican Republic, has transformed the face of the neighborhood: a great number of Dominican restaurants dot the area, Spanish is the primary language spoken in all of the stores, and Dominican music (Merengue and Bachata) can be heard from loudspeakers outside of the many bodegas that supply the neighborhood." (Mateu-Gelabert, 2002)

While this neighborhood is characterized by "renewed business vitality" due to the "influx of newcomers" simultaneously "the area has many social problems." (Mateu-Gelabert, 2002) Poverty is rampant in this neighborhood and drugs have historically been a problem and furthermore continue to be a problem of a serious nature in this area. Additionally, it is noted that the proximity of main transportation routes to the neighborhood has served to nourish "a major drug market that supplies cocaine and heroin to drug sellers around the New York metropolitan area." (Mateu-Gelabert, 2002)

Stated to be a consequence of the drug trade in the city of El Dorado is the "division of the neighborhood into 'selling' blocks. The drug business generates divisions among blocks, as drug dealers define specific blocks as their 'turf' or sales area." (Mateu-Gelabert, 2002) Mateu-Gelabert relates that "collective efficacy" has been used in the criminological literature in an attempt to understand the differences in crime rates in neighborhoods that are similar in terms of their socio-economic characteristics. According to the research "neighborhoods with a network of adults who are able to supervise groups of adolescents are less likely to have high rates of criminal activity." The supervision of adolescents is often seen as a problem by immigrant parents and places "an additional number of stressors on families that often decreases parents' effectiveness in supervising their adolescent children." (Mateu-Gelabert, 2002)

Effective parent's supervision is stated to be undermined by certain factors "inherent to the immigration process" and specifically noted are the factors of:

(1) Family disruption;

(2) the different speeds and degrees of socialization experienced by parents and children;

(3) Circular migration;

(4) Differences between immigrant parents and their young daughter on what are appropriate gender roles;

(5) Parents' inability to supervise their children in the same ways they did in their home country; and (6) Parents' perceptions that in the U.S. there are institutional constraints limiting their ability to discipline their children. (Mateu-Gelabert, 2002)

Mateu-Gelabert (2002) reports in regards to social organization of adolescent conflict in the neighborhood that the groups of youth have "hang out areas that tend to overlap with the turf areas of the highly developed drug markets. These groupings may be considered gangs because they are named, ritualized kinds of groups and often they have conflict with other block gangs. The block gangs are not directly employed by drug traffickers, but rather serve as an overlapping source of potential violence in this area. The gangs pose a significant risk to all of the residents in the area, especially the adolescents." (Mateu-Gelabert, 2002)

Since the gangs in the neighborhood are generally-based within the perimeter of one to two city street blocks "this division often forces the children to define their loyalties." (Mateu-Gelabert, 2002) it is related that students generally identify themselves as "belonging to a block" or "representing their block" and that this is typically where the house in which they live is located. Mobility outside of their assigned block causes the adolescents to experience both "geographical and social perceptions of danger" and from this perspective "representing" or being affiliated with a block gang "carries the benefit of enabling them to navigate the streets safety since it serves as a deterrent to being picked on or victimized by others." (Mateu-Gelabert, 2002) Mateu-Gelabert relates that "a conflict between blocks can often escalate into severe violence and people may resort to using weapons." (2002)

Mateu-Gelabert notes that many of the students in the study define friends and enemies "as a function of the block to which they belong. Such strong identification with a block carries extreme loyalties. The block is often referred to as family because you can appeal to block members for help when in trouble. Block members are perceived as a resource for help and to maintain safety. (2002) Mateu-Gelabert (2002) notes that more often than not the block groups are in the midst of a conflict and this conflict is "ever changing, not static." (2002) Furthermore, the blocks are stated to "establish alliances to fight more powerful blocks. Block groups fight for respect. Respect is the quintessential value in block interchange. Threats of and use of physical force are the currencies with which 'respect' is achieved." (Mateu-Gelabert, 2002)

This "ongoing rivalry in the neighborhood give most students, especially those more involved with 'block life' a sense that no place is safe. One needs to be constantly on guard." (Mateu-Gelabert, 2002) Mateu-Gelabert reports that the neighborhood's division in to block groups and "the social rules that operate within the neighborhood and across blocks constantly influence the daily lives of all adolescents." (2002) Guns… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Ethnic Studies Gangs" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Ethnic Studies Gangs.  (2009, May 1).  Retrieved September 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Ethnic Studies Gangs."  1 May 2009.  Web.  26 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Ethnic Studies Gangs."  May 1, 2009.  Accessed September 26, 2021.