Hanibal High School Gangs
The Saints and the Roughnecks are nicknames that belonged to two groups of delinquents from Hanibal High School. The first gang of young men was seen harassing cafe patrons, women and girls, construction workers, pranking, drinking, vandalizing, and speeding, while the other often noticed fighting, stealing, and drinking. The difference is, the former knew how to behave in public, while the latter did not. The Saints knew that they should be “contrite, polite and penitent” in front of teachers and police officers (Chambliss 188). Moreover, their overall school performance was better, and they were richer than the Roughnecks were. That is why society perceived them differently and gave these gangs different nicknames. Chambliss concludes that the Roughnecks’ behavior was more deviant, primarily due to public perceptions that exacerbated adolescent alienation.
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Labeling of the Saints and the Roughnecks and Anomie
Chambliss describes the key sociological theory of deviance in conclusion. The writer argues that the theory that should be applied to the case is labeling. (Chambliss 194). According to this theory, the degree of deviant behavior depends on who observes and defines it. Chambliss refers to it as “finding, processing and punishing some kinds of criminality and not others” (Chambliss 194). Often the most influential or powerful groups in the community are the defining actors. In the case of the Saints and the Roughnecks, they are high school teachers and police officers. I believe that anomie is also applicable there. The author analyzed the past status of the gangs and the further fate of the participants, but he did not investigate the reasons for the deviant behavior of both groups. It is clear that the antisocial behavior of the Roughnecks is due in part to socio-economic blocks.
Chambliss, William J. “The Saints and the Roughnecks.” Society, vol. 11, no. 1, 1973, pp. 24-31.