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Sociological Perspectives of Gangs Throughout History Open Access

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When one pictures a gang, the image that comes to mind is a group of young, minority males in an urban community. They commit acts of violence, murder and theft. The definition of a gang is one that terrorizes the streets of America and baffles police departments from coast to coast. Conversely, from a sociologist's perspective, the definition of a gang is not that simple. The issues of theory, membership, labels and crime patterns all merge to one confusing and constantly altering perception. This paper will address these issues by exploring historical sociological perceptions of gangs beginning with the Fredrick Thrasher's study of Chicago gangs in 1927. Major sociological studies of their era will be addressed and dissected, ending with contemporary ethnographic research and the changing perception of gangs. Finally, the paper will illuminate how ex-gang members perceive themselves as delinquent gang members.

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