Constructions of gang membership among high school youth

Van Wyk, Brian Eduard (2001-03)

Thesis (MA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The problem of gangsterism in the Western Cape is taking on huge proportions especially among high school youth. Previous studies found that the initial expectations of gang members and their actual experience of gang membership differed. An ethnographic study was done with high school pupils from a semi-urban setting in the Western Cape who were gang members to find out how they constructed meaning out of their membership to the gangs. Transcripts of unstructured interviews with five participants were analysed using Strauss and Corbin's method of Grounded Theo . The analysis - showed that the pupils from this setting predominantly joined the gangs because they were exposed to the gang members, who operated in the same streets that they live in, and as a result received much more positive information about the gang from their friends. They chose to remain committed to the gang because the gang members were perceived as being very supportive, providing for them financially, emotionally (by giving them acceptance) and physically (protecting them). The study found tha COnfl~!).,as a major part of the gang life or culture. Members could not escape the violent gang activities, despite all their attempts to make peace. The gang culture which resembled that of the prison gang c~, was perpetuated and sustained by the persistent group dynamics and processes that imposed social roles and expectations on members. The members became more deviant in behaviour out of loyalty to the gang. Contrary to current beliefs on the causes of gangsterism, the present study found that social control and feelings of relative deprivation had no conscious influence on the participants' decision to become gang members. The research suggests that future gang intervention should seek to develop programs around providing alternative modes of support to youth at risk.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die bendevraagstuk in die Westelike Kaap neem groot afmetings aan onder die jeug van verskeie plaaslike hoerskole. Vorige studies het getoon dat die aanvanklike verwagtinge van die jeug en hulle werklike ervaring van bendelidmaatskap verskil het. 'n Etnografiese ondersoek is geloods waarin hoerskoolleerlinge uit 'n semi-stedelike gebied van die Westelike Kaap betrek is om die betekenis van bendelidmaatskap te konstrueer. Die ongestruktureerde onderhoude met vyf deelnemers is aan die hand van Strauss en Corbin se metode van analise ontleed. Die daaropvolgende analise het getoon dat hulle hoofsaaklik by 'n bende in hul woonbuurt aangesluit het omdat hulle baie blootstelling aan, en positiewe terugvoer van die bendelede gekry het. Die deelnemers het verkies om lojaal teenoor die bende te bly omdat die bende hulle emosionele (aanvaarding), fisiese (beskerming) en finansiele ondersteuning gebied het. Die huidige studie het gevind dat konflik 'n integrale kern van die bendekultuur gevorm het. Ten spyte van die vele pogings wat bendelede aangewend het om vrede te bewerkstellig, kon hulle nie daarin slaag om die geweldadige akitiwiteite te stuit nie. Hierdie bendekultuur wat sterk ooreenstem met die tronkbende-sisteem is in stand gehou deur groepsdinamika wat sekere sosiale rolle en verwagtinge op lede afgedwing het. Bendelede het groter gedragsafwykings getoon soos wat die lojaliteit aan die bende toegeneem het. In teenstelling met algemene bevindings betreffende die oorsprong van bendelidmaatskap, het hierdie studie getoon dat sosiale beheer en die ervaring van relatiewe deprivasie geen noemenswaardige invloed gehad het nie. Daar word voorgestel dat programme vir intervensies moet konsentreer op alternatiewe vorme van ondersteuning vir hierdie "riskante" jeug.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/52172
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