English Essay - Part 3

Gang Leader For A Day Social imagination, “individual problems are to social problems, what is happening outside of one’s personal control - English Essay introduction. This relationship between individual experiences and public issues is the sociological imagination” (Our Social World Pg9). The book that we read “Gang Leader for a Day” by Sudhir Vankatesh clearly illustrates the sociological imagination. In the early part of the book we see Vankatesh trying to give surveys to a gang to try to understand how they feel about their lives in poverty.

The rest of society sees Gang Members as a problem because of the drug trafficking and other illegal activities. When Vankatesh continues to interact with the gang we start to see things from the outside looking in. These gang members are doing what they have to do get by because society never gave them the same opportunities that the other people had to better themselves and get out of the projects. People of Robert Taylor seem to me like a subculture within the society of Chicago.

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The rest of society have almost forced them to differentiate themselves by creating this subculture which society sees them as a problem because of effects like drug distribution, prostitution, and other illegal activities. Society is also at fault because they never gave these people enough help to better themselves in a way where they could avoid, and hopefully leave the projects/poverty. When Ms. Bailey’s rant she states “ people in poverty have to spend whatever money they earn to feed their families while delaying their children schooling, because they can’t afford it. (Vankatesh 148) During this she also talks about how the police will never come to help, although they have most of the crime and need them a lot more than the wealthier area of Chicago. In this area the police seem like heroes and they seem to thrive there too. One time in the book “Gang Leader for a Day” the police arrived in the projects just to steal from the Black Kings. With the view stated before and this one cop are perceived to different ways. In the book there are people that leave Robert Taylor, but then choose to come back on their own. This is caused by deviance.

When people tend to associate with the same groups doing similar deviant activities learn those ways and use them in everyday life. For example when kids get in trouble a lot with their teacher they usually become friends because they share the same deviant behavior. They usually know their reactions have negative consequences but they usually don’t care and still continue to break them. “Gang Leader for a Day” exemplifies the sociological imagination but Vankatesh approach I think completely furthers. I believe he also show a methodological approach in the book.

Vankatesh lived with the people of Robert Taylor and the Black Kings for a long time. With doing this we are able to see their sociological imagination. By doing this he did what most sociologists don’t do. Usually sociologists perform open ended surveys to come up with their reasons. With Vankatesh living with the gangs he was able to capture more observations and over time he was able to get to know them like close friends. By becoming close to them he was able to get an idea on how they think and why they act certain ways and what they do in society.

A disadvantage of doing what that it is extremely dangerous because of the given circumstances. He was hanging out with a gang that was involved in many different illegal activities. On a Sociology standpoint though he was only studying a small area of the projects in Chicago. By stating that his study was mostly a micro study due to the small group. When Vankatesh was conducting his study many people thought that his study wasn’t ethical because of all the illegal activity. When he observed the drive by, and he didn’t really say anything about it, but on the contrary I believe his study was ethical.

I believe this because he asked JT and the people of Robert Taylor if he was allow to study them. If he just jumped in and didn’t ask them, then I would believe his study to be unethical. With his study though, we were about to find out something new about the poor people of Robert Taylor. We learned there is a trust problem because everyone believes everyone else is out to get them. This is mostly because no one has helped them to this point and they gave up that somebody will eventually.

People outside of poverty think that gangs violent drug trafficking groups, but really when reading the book I noticed that the people of Robert Taylor need Black Kings . In the book JT every now and then sent out a few gang members to purchase food for the tenants . Also the Black Kings donated clothing , and held tournaments. They also wouldn’t allow people to join till they went through school. Basically the Gang is a business within the community. The police never really went their part of town to begin with, so the Black Kings act as the police.

With the Black Kings acting as a business/police the people of Robert Taylor turn to them because they are the ones who can help them out. Vankatesh’s outcomes tells a lot about gang life. In the book we see the gang basically take a business structure and apply it to their life. The different castes within the structure hold different types of power. Drug runners in instance were the ones who usually went out and made the transaction of the product. By starting at this stage they can earn promotions and earn money, just like JT did at the end of the novel.

Just like other businesses they are competing with rival gangs. Usually by doing this there are fights, but they try to keep the gun shots to a minimum so no one gets scared. JT said that Robert Taylor is a great location to sell drugs due to the many hot spots. Just like a business they also keep accurate records of all their money and where it goes and comes from. By doing this they are able to assign different wages and ranks. Although Chicago has had organized groups like the mafia back in the day, but I highly doubt any gang now a days can run such an operation like the mafia and the Black Kings. Gang Leader for a Day” can be noticed as an example of the sociological imagination. With his study we were able to see the view of the poor people of Robert Taylor. We usually don’t associate with the poor people because society sees them as a problem. The reason society looks at poor people this way is because they live usually in high crime rates, and gangs who sell drugs. In the novel we were able to see gangs as being the backbone of poverty , by helping out people in need , and doing something that the rest of society never noticed.

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