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Antony W. Dnes Integrity and Irrational Behavior in Gangs, Aristocracies, Cliques and other Sub Groups.

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Presentation on theme: "Antony W. Dnes Integrity and Irrational Behavior in Gangs, Aristocracies, Cliques and other Sub Groups."— Presentation transcript:

1 Antony W. Dnes Integrity and Irrational Behavior in Gangs, Aristocracies, Cliques and other Sub Groups

2 Rational Basis for Behaviour of Street Gangs? Gang - special case of a subgroup in society Others: aristocratic elites, organized crime, military groups, and even academic groupings and cliques Changing mores in late twentieth and early twenty-first century always driven by socio-economic factors (Norbert Elias) Coarsening of manners, associated with the emergence of subgroups, particularly street gangs of young bullies (Chavs) Analysis differs from work on IO of drugs gangs by Levitt & Venkatesh (2000).

3 Indirect Benefits from Irrational Behaviour – Developing Skills Irrational behaviour = investment in gang-related skills? Gang members (i) share in the proceeds of general gang activity, (ii) benefit from reputation effect with outsiders. We knew that if we approached people in the street they would be scared of us. …It was a laugh to watch them cross the street or run away as we approached (Gilbert 2006, 89). Examples: beat up a victim after the robbery; provoking fight in heartland of another gang; binge drinking to near death. Main characteristic is recklessness.

4 Just How Irrational? We all piled into the pub … Someone was stabbed, someone was thrown in front of a moving car, … one got his lung punctured … another fractured his skull (Gilbert 2006). Is such behaviour responsive to deterrence mechanisms? Klein (1995): Street gangs are an amalgam of racism, …poverty, of minority and youth culture, of fatalism in the face of rampant deprivation … Levitt &Venkatesh (2000): Difficult … to reconcile the behavior of gang members with an economic model without assuming nonstandard preferences or…nonpecuniary benefits

5 Rational Basis for Gang Behaviour. Similar to Dueling? Gangs are one example of a social subgroup c.f. Aristocratic dueling (Allen and Reed, 2006) - dueling evolved to provide screening device enabling monarch to find individuals possessed of high integrity. Dueling highly irrational: more important to give and take challenge; developed to avoid fatality. Remarkable similarity between gang members resistance to attacks on reputation and that of earlier aristocrats. Difference may be gang members invest in observable human capital – screening probably not relevant.

6 Comparing Gangs and Aristocracies: a Matter of Life & Death Richard was the gang leader, and he would hype us up. His common gambits were: That guy was looking at me,… He was laughing at me. The whole lot of us would pile into him (Gilbert, 2006, 88). Duels were fought over an insult, a slap to the face, a slur on reputation, coolness of manner, or, most serious of all, an accusation of lying. (Billacois, 1990, 9, cited by Allen and Reed, 2006, 83).

7 Integrity in Gangs Antisocial behaviour that acts as signal of belonging to a gang revolves around recklessness: binge drinking, fighting, taking on authority Deschenes and Esbensen (1997): gang members more impulsive, engage in more reckless behavior, and committed to gang peers, but not to school, parents, or non-gang youth. Indirectly of value to gang: can rely on individual. C.f. Military initiation (unofficial)? Academic publishing? Recklessness a form of integrity as viewed by gang?

8 N individuals each born with a different level of subgroup human capital, s i 0, ranked from highest to lowest, i.e. s 1 0 > s 2 >…> s N+1 0 > s N 0. Individuals post-investment level of subgroup human capital is s i s i 0. Gang member if at least s R (set by leader). Leader has highest human capital, s 1 0 Total gain to gang, depends on membership size, n(s R ), Y = y[n(s R )] nG Investments in Human Capital in Gangs

9 Benefits of Joining Gang Personal prestige, P i, attached to being a gang member. Unequal share in gang proceeds, weighted by λ i Member earns: E i = (1+ λ i ) G+ P i where λ i =0 So: (i) leader chooses s R, which, together with the cost of investment, determines the size of the gang; (ii) individuals decide their investments, s R - s*, in subgroup human capital.

10 Joining the Gang Individual born with s* s R, there is no need for investment If individual born with s*< s R, then investment occurs if the net gains from investment are positive. The equilibrium cut-off level of human capital, s*, for worth while investment, is determined by the marginal individual: (1+λ*) G+P* - C[s R - s*( s R )] = 0 (right hand part, C[.], shows costs)

11 Mind the Gap Ex post distribution of human capital has a gap in it: s N s* Region of no Investment s R s 1 There is a large gap between the characteristics of gang members and the rest of society. Membership depends on the incentives for investment ex ante, and the feasibility of investment, for the individuals initially characterized by s*< s R.

12 An Economist Writes … Street-gang traits, such as binge drinking and antagonism of legitimate authority can be understood in terms of showing off the possession of relevant subgroup human capital. The group that starts with lower endowed gang-relevant human capital, integrity in the terms of this paper, should be susceptible to policies aimed at deterring the acquisition of additional capital (e.g. zero-tolerance policies; super nanny). All gang members deterred if the gains from belonging to the gang are reduced by increases in the severity of punishment and the probability of applying the punishment, following the usual theory of the economics of crime

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