Why Young People Join Gangs Essays

954 Words 4 Pages
With many sources that attempt to explain why youth join gangs, studies based on empirical research are optimal to reveal the critical factors. This paper will focus on combining these sources that are based on empirical methodologies with Robert Merton's strain theory to explain why youth join gangs from an analytical perspective. The empirical studies reveal a trend that youth join gangs because of a troublesome economy and coming from a low-socioeconomic status, creating a strong connection with Merton's strain theory. It is not uncommon that in today's world, there are societal expectations and standards of the ideal lifestyle. In the US, the 'American Dream' constitutes the ideal life that is based on achieving wealth, …show more content…
This argument can be supported by the analogy of the socio-economic ladder, where members of society who come from a low status to begin will experience greater difficulty to climb up the ladder than those who come from a middle-or-upper-class background. In addition, the authors of the empirical study articles reveal the critical factor that explains the reason youth join gangs is having a low socio-economic status to begin with (Johnstone 1983, Maclure and Sotelo 2004, Yoder et al. 2003). Hence, the act of joining gangs leads to performing illegitimate means to become wealthy, such as selling drugs. Similarly, Pfohl (1985 as cited in Lilly et al. 2011) reveals that Merton had first-hand experience of a slum neighbourhood that experienced the limitation to grow. This context fits the aforementioned description of innovation based on Merton's list of adaptations because the youth accept that they must achieve the American dream, however they believe they are only to do so via illegitimate means due to their low socio-economic status that limits them from attaining a college education and getting a prestigious career, which is the normative means of achieving the mainstream

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