Hagedorn (People and Folks), a scholar of gangland culture for more than 20 years, contends that gangs have existed since the Roman Republic and will continue to thrive as long as globalization continues to create untenable situations for the urban poor. Hagedorn surveys street gangs from Mumbai, Paris, L.A., Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town and 15th-century Florence, examining the role race and ethnicity play in gang formation (the white Gaylords of Chicago, the Latin Kings) and how the gang itself can be regarded as an alternative social institution, providing protection and economic opportunities for neglected populations. Hagedorn's description of gangs as institutionalized "living organisms" explains why they are so difficult to eradicate. Although Hagedorn is an undeniable authority on the topic and has logged plenty of face time with gang members, his work relies rather heavily on analyzing academic studies as opposed to providing in-depth descriptions of his own firsthand observations. His focus on old school "gangsta rap" also reveals a slight disconnect from his youthful subjects, as he refers to passé artists such as Cypress Hill as popular modern-day performers. While Hagedorn has produced a well-organized, well-researched and sensitive study, readers hungry for more ethnographic accounts should turn to Sudhir Venkatesh's Gang Leader for a Day. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A World of Gangs: Armed Young Men and Gangsta Cultureby John M. Hagedorn
"For the more than a billion people who now live in urban slums, gangs are ubiquitous features of daily life, and they are not going away. Though still most closely associated with American cities, gangs are an entrenched, worldwide phenomenon that play a significant role in a wide range of activities, from drug dealing to extortion to religious and political violence… See more details below
"For the more than a billion people who now live in urban slums, gangs are ubiquitous features of daily life, and they are not going away. Though still most closely associated with American cities, gangs are an entrenched, worldwide phenomenon that play a significant role in a wide range of activities, from drug dealing to extortion to religious and political violence. In A World of Gangs, John M. Hagedorn explores this international proliferation of the urban gang as a consequence of the ravages of globalization." On the street with gangs in three world cities - Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, and Capetown - Hagedorn discovers that many of them have institutionalized as a strategy to confront a hopeless cycle of poverty, racism, and oppression. The mhilistic appeal of gangsta rap and its ethic of survival "by any means necessary," he argues, provides vital insights into the ideology and persistence of gangs around the world. Proposing how gangs can be encouraged to overcome their violent tendencies, Hagedorn appeals to community leaders to use the urgency, outrage, and resistance common to both gang life and hip-hop to bring gangs into broader movements for social justice.
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