GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
(Decker and Van Winkle 1996)
2. Thrasher's conception of "the gang" is particularly relevant for this book. What, according to Thrasher, is the origin of gangs? In what sense are they similar to other primary or secondary groups? In what respect are "gangs" different or distinctive?
4. What is the research design of this book? What are the major research questions they address?
5. How do the authors conceptualize (define) "gang"? How did they modify this definition over the course of their research? How do adolescents who belong to gangs define "the gang"?
7. How do the adolescents in this study come to join a gang? How does this process of gradual affiliation (the "push") reflect theories introduced early in the course?
8. Initiation rituals are extremely important in creating solidarity among gang members, and many of these rituals are explicitly violence? Why is the violence important?9. Initiation rituals vary by gender. Compare the initiation rites used by male and female gangs.
10. What is the linkage between defending turf and drug sales that Decker and Van Winkle suggest?
12. Why do you think that gangs are rarely racially or ethnically integrated?
14. What rules or norms govern gang members? To what extent are gangs organized and structured hierarchically?
15. Gang have their origin, the authors write, in specific neighborhoods, but over time their members become dispersed living in different areas. How might this dispersion affect the gang's propensity to organize?
16. What is the relation between subgroups within the gang and the gang as a cohesive group?
18. How might the surveillance of gang activities and the enforcement of laws against minor criminal activities affect both the self concepts and the future prospects of adolescents who are identified as "gang" members? What theorists studied earlier in the semester might we apply in answering this question?19. Is it possible to make any general statements about the use of drugs and attitudes toward drugs in gangs based on Decker and Van Winkle's research? Attitudes toward drug use are both inconsistent and ambiguous in this book. What attitude toward the larger society do these inconsistencies and ambiguities reflect?
20. Describe the process through which the gang becomes a primary group for the adolescent?
21. How does low-level criminality lead to more serious criminal activity on the part of gangs and subgroups within gangs?
23. Like any sociologists, Decker and VanWinkle present evidence for their assertion that there is not necessarily a connection between belonging to a gang and selling illegal drugs. On what specific facts do they base this assertion?
24. In this chapter the authors discuss both functional and expressive violence. How are these types of violence different? Discuss the feedback loop created by violence that is answered by retaliation.
26. What is the linkage between "underclass theory" and the options that gang members perceive are available to them in terms of their futures? Are the gang members' perceptions accurate or simply a rationalization for their failure to engage in conventional life styles? Explain your answer.
Patricia Masters Online updated on 08/15/04