The article talks about Sudhir Venkatesh who is a sociology graduate and who manages to infiltrate one of the most notorious gangs in Chicago, The Black Kings. The introduction of the story being Freakonomics captures the attention of the world. The young sociologist is described to have studied a gang dealing gang in Chicago by infiltrating it. Determined to show his boldness and impress his professors in the assignment he was given, he first befriends the gang leader, JT who would offer him protection later while in the gang. Sudhir Venkatesh is conducting an assignment on urban poverty that involves having people participate in a survey. The young sociology student thus walks into one of the most notorious housing projects to do his assignment. Unexpectedly, he meets JT, and this would be the beginning of his decade-long project in the gang.
Gang Leader for a Day: Sociology Analysis of Cultural Deviance
Sudhir Venkatesh’s method revolutionized the academic field. He documents everything that he sees while in the gang. These included the officials involved in crack dealing, the crack neighborhood, the pimps and prostitutes, the organizers, cops, and even activists. From his position, Sudhir is privileged to see everything that happened in the gang. He saw how the gang conducted its crack business, how it made good public relations, in short, Sudhir sees everything that happens under the gangs’ reign in Chicago. He also manages to understand the gangs’ surprisingly complex organizational structure. Sudhir becomes an important tool to expose how crack-dealing gangs run their businesses.
The article has had a huge impact on the American public since it carries very important knowledge about gangs in the United States and is narrated from an insider’s perspective. After reading the article, one is more likely to understand how gangs operate and the immense power they wield; sometimes even above the law. The article exposes the rot in society and how gang life has shaped American culture. The author has successfully managed to debunk commonly held views about gang life. By discarding the clipboard and survey style of investigation, Sudhir Venkatesh decides to get more real with his investigation. He embeds himself into the gang life and becomes part of it for almost ten years so as to make a more tangible catalog about gang life. One is thus likely to be more convinced by his version of research.
The article also helps one to come to a conclusion that gangs are more powerful in the backstreet communities and meet their demands mainly by use of a brutal reign of terror. They extort taxes from people. However, these very gangs also have a bright side. They organize activities such as community tournaments, uphold order in the community and protect tenants, and even provide escorts for the elderly. This insight alone enlightens one in that it shows that gang life is not just about the disorder and brutal murder as is a common belief. They play a much wider role in society.
Quotes From Gang Leader for a Day
“Just another day as an outsider looking at life from the inside”
“It turned out that the ivory tower was also an ivory fortress”
“But as alien, as I was to these folks, they were just as alien to me”
“‘You got two kinds of whites in this city,’ he said, ‘... You got whites who’ll beat you if you come into their neighborhood. They live around Bridgeport and the Southwest Side. Then you got another group that just won’t invite you in. They’ll call the police if you come in their neighborhood—like where you live, in Hyde Park. And the police will beat you up”
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