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Gangs Case

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Theorists such as Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, and Robert Merton popularized the functional analysis theory, which is a specific perspective used to show why or how social issues occur. Functional Analysis, also known as functionalism, states that society as a whole unit is made up of interrelated parts that work together to make a situation the way it is. I chose functionalism to explain gang violence because I believe it most completely explains the main causes of the issue. No one thing is predominantly to blame for the epidemic of gang violence. However, a variety of institutions and social norms work together to contribute to the problem.

Gang violence is most closely linked with poverty, and tends to affect lower income neighborhoods. This economically unstable environment creates an atmosphere in which impoverished youth may feel as though they have to steal things, or mug people in order to get what they need to survive. Many people in or around gangs do not feel as if there is great opportunity within their communities to earn wages, make a living, and support themselves financially. This lack of economic opportunity, or the notion that there is a lack of economic opportunity in impoverished neighborhoods, results in people trying to earn money by any means, whether legal or illegal.

"Durkheim stated that deviance is functional for society if it reinforces norms and values as well as enabling society to evolve." In this sense, many kids in gang infested neighborhoods overlook the negative consequences that they may be aware of pertaining to gang membership; because they see a more rewarding positive side to gangs. They see gang members driving luxurious cars, owning large properties, and wearing high fashioned clothing and expensive jewelry. Young naive minds can easily be persuaded to join gangs if they believe they will better themselves financially in the process.

A majority of gang income and activity is based on the illegal smuggling and selling of drugs and narcotics, and a substantial portion of the gang related crimes is due to the competition in the drug trade for rival gangs who are constantly seeking to expand their territories. This competition more often than not results in tragic losses of life. One solution to the issue might be to tax and legalize certain drugs, or to advertise programs to help people become active members of their communities, or to simply increase the number of programs that help impoverished people train for, find, and keep good jobs.

In strain theory, "Merton stated that criminals have the same goals as the rest of society but lack the accepted means to achieve these goals, consequently they turn to crime to do so." In addition to the lack of economic means, many gang members or potential gang members also lack educational means. There are countless studies that show a strong correlation between education (or lack thereof) and



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