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Urban Gangs in America Since 1783


Gangs in America have been in existence since 1783 round the time when the American Revolution was coming to an end (Howell and Moore, 2010). The initial meaning of the term gang was “a journey” though the meaning was changed to mean “ a group of sailors” in the 15th century. The gangs emerged from the East coast, north east and Midwest and were influenced by immigration and search for better livelihood. Gangs functions vary in that some are political some formed for community policy and security while others are criminal.

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Factions of gangs

Political gangs are formed and funded by the political elite to secure their political survival. Community policy gangs normally are formed for societal security to safeguard the society albeit they often turn against the same society. Criminal gangs are the worst of them all as these are groups formed to harm and vandalize people’s properties. Meeting the needs fulfilled by gangs calls for thorough research and in-depth consideration of their experiences. Action against gangs is always met with overwhelming opposition from social groups and human rights activists (Howell and Moore, 2010).


Deviance is what motivates and informs formation of majority of the gangs in the society. Most of them are devoted to carrying out activities that compromise the approved social norms and ethics. Nonetheless, deviance can be either criminal or none criminal depending on whether the activity violates the law or it violates the socials standards. Such activities as prostitution are not considered as criminal offenses neither is nudity albeit both contravene the social norms. Such activities display an element of deviance of the society in the formation of gangs.

Action to minimize violence

Elevating the level of poverty would help in changing the mind of young people to stay away from illegal activities through gangs. Young people in the streets are in search for a better livelihood with some charged with the responsibility to cater for their families. Meeting some of these needs that prompt them to join gangs is a sure way to avert the problem. Idleness is another reason why gangs are formed as the youth focus their energy on the wrong activities. This can be solved by providing jobs to engage the youth in fruitful and legal forms of self development.

Sociological perspectives

Symbolic interactionst perspective is the art of giving meaning to one’s world and the manner by which people interact with each other (Wiley 2012). Gangs try to justify their actions in this perspective to attach a positive meaning to their destructive engagements. Their activities however contribute heavily to societal functioning entirely. Young people join these groups and discontinue their education. Hence in the long run, they lack qualification to get into decent and legal employments. Due to illegal engagements, the government looses tax and labor force and the chain go on.


This entirely narrows down to the conflict perspective which involves the struggle to keep up with social class and acceptance (Wiley, 2012). Due to the gap between the rich and the poor, conflict arises as the rich try to impose their social order on to the poor. These prompts rebellion and conflict and in response, the class living in poverty becomes hostile. Bitterness and a sense of betrayal cause the poor population to respond negatively hence emergence of a conflict. The actions of both the rich and the poor contribute to the disputes and conflict in the society.


  1. Howell, J.C., & Moore, J. P. (2010). History of Street Gangs in the United States. The Influence of Population Migration Patterns on Gang Emergence.4 (8), 1-3
  2. Wiley, J. 2012. Theories of Deviance. Cliffsnotes.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Urban Gangs in America Since 1783." January 6, 2022.


StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Urban Gangs in America Since 1783'. 6 January.

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