Gangs in the City: Profiles of Reality
Keywords:Gangs; gang member, gang violence; gang profile; gangbanging; Belize
Lewis’ (1968) subculture of poverty in New York and Puerto Rico reveals defined attributes distinct from mere poverty such as mistrust of traditional state institutions a taste for expensive material items, short economic horizons and a looking inward for support and problem solving. Lewis mentions gang in only in passing as part of his subculture of poverty. This paper asserts that in today’s reality the stereotypical profile does not accurately capture self-identified gang member in Belize City. Using one-on-one interviews with self-identified gang members and crime data on Belize City, Belize, this research reveals that these gang members reflect some attributes of the subculture of poverty including social disassociation, insularity, self-reliance, and mistrust of law enforcement. There are notable exceptions such as broad views on education, political awareness, income generating activities and paucity of material possessions. This works suggests that gangs emerge as alternative means of survival defying many of the stereotypes plied in the wider population that the members are merely delinquent young people with no life or qualities worthy of consideration.
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