Structural Theories and Street Gangs

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Motivation and Membership
The strain theory explores how anomie may result in criminal activity. In fact, the strain theory states that because an individual fails to achieve valued goals and standards, these blocked opportunities can lead to criminal or deviant activity in order to reach a goal (Adler, Mueller,Laufer & Grekul, 2009, p.130). We can relate this theory to the young boys presented in the movie City of God. For example, Lil’Z knows that he does not have the ability to live a life as the people outside the slum are living; he is aware that he does not have the ability to achieve, principally, the monetary success and standard of society maybe because of his lack of education and the violent environment in which he lives in. Thus, he decides to accompany the Tender Trio and rub the motel with them in order to achieve the monetary success he wants, and eventually commit many crimes in order to get money. In City of Gangs, it is explained that one of the problem in Regina is that aboriginal could have a job if they wanted, but many of these people don’t have the ability to achieve this goal since they don’t have a resume or they don’t know how to fill an application form (City of Gangs, 2009). Thus, the young people on reserves are experiencing this inability to achieve norms and standards of the dominant society, and are joining gangs in order to achieve their goal, through illegitimate ways such as selling drugs or stealing. Differential Association theory is a theory that looks at the acts of the criminal as learned behaviors through social interaction (Adler, Mueller,Laufer & Grekul, 2009, p.132). Gang members are setting criminal norms and values to its members, thus members are learning a criminal behavior, such as stealing, carrying a gun or using drugs. The members of street gangs are learning more definitions of actions favorable to violation of the law and this learning is passed down from generation to generation (Adler,...
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