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Real Gangstas: Legitimacy, Reputation, and Violence in the Intergang Environment (Critical Issues in Crime and Society)by Timothy R. Lauger
Synopses & Reviews
Street gangs are a major concern for residents in many inner-city communities. However, gangsandrsquo; secretive and, at times, delinquent tendencies limit most peopleandrsquo;s exposure to the realities of gang life. Based on eighteen months of qualitative research on the streets of Indianapolis, Real Gangstas provides a unique and intimate look at the lives of street gang members as they negotiate a dangerous peer environment in a major midwestern city.
Timothy R. Lauger interviewed and observed a mix of fifty-five gang members, former gang members, and non-gang street offenders. He spent much of his fieldwork time in the company of a particular gang, the andldquo;Down for Whatever Boyz,andrdquo; who allowed him to watch and record many of their day-to-day activities and conversations. Through this extensive research, Lauger is able to understand and explain the reasons for gang membership, including a chaotic family life, poverty, and the need for violent self-assertion in order to foster the creation of a personal identity.
Although the book exposes many troubling aspects of gang life, it is not a simple descriptive or a sensationalistic account of urban despair and violence. Steeped in the tradition of analytical ethnography, the study develops a central theoretical argument: combinations of street gangs within cities shape individual gang member behavior within those urban settings. Within Indianapolis, members of rival gangs interact on a routine basis within an ambiguous and unstable environment. Participants believe that many of their contemporaries claiming gang affiliations are not actually andldquo;realandrdquo; gang members, but instead are imposters who gain access to the advantages of gang membership through fraud and pretense. Consequently, the ability to discern andldquo;realandrdquo; gang membersandmdash;or to present oneself successfully as a real gang memberandmdash;is a critical part of gangland Indianapolis.
Real Gangstas offers an objective and fair characterization of active gang members,and#160; successfully balancing the seemingly conflicting idea that they generally seem like normal teenagers, yet are abnormally concerned withandmdash;and too often involved inandmdash;violence. Lauger takes readers to the edge of an actual gang conflict, providing a rare and up-close look at the troubling processes that facilitate hostility and violence.
Real Gangstas relies on the tradition of urban ethnography to provide a unique and intimate look at the lives of street gang members in Indianapolis, IN. For eighteen months, Timothy R. Lauger interviewed and observed a mix of fifty-five gang members, former gang members, and non-gang street offenders, many from the andldquo;Down for Whatever Boyz.andrdquo; Through this research, Lauger is able to understand and explain the reasons for gang membership, including a chaotic family life, poverty, and the need for violent self-assertion in order to foster the creation of a personal identity.
Based on five years of ethnography, archival research, census data analysis, and interviews, Police, Power, and the Production of Racial Boundaries reveals how the LAPD, city prosecutors, and business owners struggled to control who should be considered andldquo;dangerousandrdquo; and how they should be policed in Los Angeles. Ana Muandntilde;iz shows how this influential group used policies and everyday procedures to criminalize behaviors commonly associated with blacks and Latinos and to promote an exceedingly aggressive form of policing.
About the Author
ANA MUandNtilde;IZ was a Soros Justice Fellow at the Open Society Foundation. She is the director of the Dream Resource Center, an institute for research, education, and policy on undocumented youth immigrant issues in Los Angeles, California.and#160;
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History and Social Science » Crime » Criminology