“Gangs” have been around throughout history. There were outlaw gangs in the old west who robbed banks and stagecoaches and of course, the “Mob”, organized crime families mainly attributed to the Italians. There is not a clear definition of what a gang is. Senior citizens would define a group of kids hanging around together as a gang. The one thing everyone would agree on is a gang is a group of people who are different from appropriate ideals of society (Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2001).
The three main sociological perspectives, functionalism, conflict theory, and interactionism, differ in their explanation of the causes of deviance. However, they can state belonging to a gang provides status, identity, loyalty, and a sense of family. It is important to understand the roots of gang affiliation and identifying the causes of deviance. The sociological perspectives show how aspects of social environment impacts the behavior of gangs (Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2001).
Functionalism deals with how parts of the populace are adaptive in nature, and how opposing parts of the populace interconnect in order to meet these needs (Henslin, 2013, p. 163). The behaviors of gangs are about adaptive functioning. The members come together to protect each other, express themselves, and to find a sense of belonging. While many of their behaviors are considered deviant by “normal society”, they are normal within the gang. The higher ranking members protect and “teach” the lower ranking members. They also persuade the lower ranking members into doing dangerous things to prove their worthiness of belonging to the gang. By proving their worthiness, they move up in the ranks. Deviance in these types of situations are rewarded by the leaders. The more deviant the behavior, the higher position in the gang.
Interactionism theory states people learn to deviate from or obey the rules of society...