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Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets

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Presentation on theme: "Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets"— Presentation transcript:

1 Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets
Sudhir Venkatesh, Penguin Books, 2008

2 WHAT IS FIELD RESEARCH? Field researchers directly observe and participate in natural social settings Examine social world “up close” Field researchers work w/ qualitative data There are several kinds: Ethnography Participant observation Informal “depth” interviews Focus groups

3 8 Stages of a Field Research Study
Preparing Starting the research project Being in the field Developing strategies for success in the field Observing and taking field notes Conducting field interviews Leaving the field Writing the field research report

4 Robert Taylor Homes, Chicago

5 Robert Taylor Homes

6 The “gallery”- Robert Taylor Homes

7 Power vs Authority (Weber)
power: the ability of an actor to realize his/her will in a social action, even against the will of other actors power relates to the ability to command resources in a particular context often relies on the use of force or coercion authority: the probability that specific commands will be obeyed. In other words, to have authority in a particular domain means that one's directives will be followed authority is power + legitimacy

8 Weber’s definition of a state
A state (more commonly called gov’t) is the sovereign authority in a specified territory, with the right to use force both to maintain internal order and to defend its territory against aggression. Sovereignty, in turn, implies that the state is the ultimate authority in its territory, exercising legal jurisdiction over its citizens and the groups and organizations they form in the conduct of daily life. (Lechner & Boli, p. 219)

9 Does “culture” cause crime?
The "culture of poverty" perspective looks to cultural factors in order to account for persistent poverty. One early version of the theory attributed the persistence of a black urban underclass to "values" – such communities, it was said, did not value hard work, education, saving, and various other core American/middle-class values. More recently, scholars are taking another look at how culture and persistent poverty are enmeshed.

10 What about blocked access to the “American Dream”?
Or is the problem that Robert Taylor residents shared American values – the American dream – yet did not have the means to realize them? According to "anomie theory" (an updated version of Durkheim's theory), when there's a mismatch between culturally accepted goals and the legitimate means to achieve them, anomie (or strain) will result One response to anomie is "innovation," where people strive toward culturally prescribed goals, but by illegitimate (often criminal) means Gangs are a typical example

11 Anomie theory (or strain theory)
Robert Merton’s anomie theory locates cause of deviance in a disjuncture (or mismatch) between culturally prescribed goals (values) and socially structured means (norms) to achieve them Individuals in such a society must adapt to this mismatch, and some adaptations may lead to deviance Members of classes or ethnic or racial groups that experience this disjuncture most acutely are more likely to make deviant adaptations

12 Modes of adaptation to anomie/strain
Values (goals) Norms (means) 1. Conformity 2. Innovation 3. Ritualism 4. Retreatism 5. Rebellion x x

13 Modes of adaptation are distinguished by responses to culturally prescribed goals (values) and socially structured means (norms) Conformity: to conform to goals and means, and avoid becoming deviant -most common response to strain in every society Innovation: to strive toward culturally prescribed goals, but by illegitimate (often criminal) means Ritualism: to conform to society’s norms (means) w/o expectation of achieving culturally prescribed goals (values) Retreatism: to reject goals and means, withdraws emotionally, socially Rebellion: to construct “a new social order” of goals and means to replace conventional values and norms

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