The Gang Subculture
Carlie (1) defines a youth subculture as a youth-based minority culture that is mainly described in line with the members’ lifestyles. The subcultures are distinct based on members’ ethnic affiliations and social class. They offer youths a sense of identity that goes beyond that which is defined by various social institutions like schools, the work environment and family. In most cases, members of a given subculture identify themselves with a given music genre. A part from the tendency to identify with a given genre of music, members of a particular youth subculture can be identified by their dress code and other visible similarities that can shape the interpretations by members of the dominant culture. Youths often identify with particular subcultures in an attempt to avoid certain limitations from the entire societal context. As such, the subcultures help to unite the youths by giving them a sense of belonging that makes other distinctive characteristics to be irrelevant. The youth subcultures include gangster, rockers, punks, emo, grunge, hippies and greasers among others. This study aims to look at the gangs’ subculture with respect to its values, norms, and practices. The gangs subculture has specific groups within it. For the sake of this study, the main conflicting groups namely blood and crisps will be analysed. The discussion will also look at the relationship between the subculture and the society that surrounds it and explain how the subculture provides its participants with a sense of identity.
Understanding the Gang Subculture
The gang subculture developed due to the emergence of rap music. Members of the subculture are identified by their love for big jeans and blings. The gang culture is popular and the members can be identified in a crowd (Carlie1). They often wear big clothes that have clothing lines like Rocawear and FUBU. The identification is crucial for the group as it sets them aside from nonmembers. Members of the in-group are capable of identifying themselves and identifying those of the out group.
The history of civil war helps to understand the conflict that exists between the gang subculture and the community. As a result of the civil war that occurred among the Crisps, bloods emerged. The duration that the bloods emerged is referred to as the evolution of the black power alliances. With time, the two opposing groups found themselves in conflict over superiority and the little resources that were available to them.
As with every social group, each type of gang has its distinct culture. The culture may not be very different from that of other gangs but it helps to differentiate members of a particular gang from those of another. The customs of the crisps and the blood are passed on to the next generation through formal and informal teachings. It is done in a process referred to as socialization. Through this process, new generations of the subcultures get to learn the customs of their social groups including specific modes of dressing, and general behavior patterns that are acceptable within the groups. Socialization also enables younger generations of the sub-types of gangs to learn their territory history, traditions and initiation rites. Therefore, socialization is perceived to be a crucial process as it enables members of the blood and crisps cultures to remain alive irrespective of generational changes. Generally, as members of the gang culture, the bloods and crisps often identify themselves with various icons like Jay-Z and 50 Cent. These icons are popular as members of the gang sub-culture and they identify with their members in their mode of dressing and walking style. This is to mean that the majority of the fans that the music icons seek to attract belong to the gang subculture (Diffy &Gilling 45).
The Norms of the Blood and Crisps
The norms of a social group refer to the mode of behavior that is acceptable within the group. Similar to any society, the blood and crisps subcultures have their distinct norms that its members must adhere to as a show of loyalty to the subculture. Failure to obey the norms can lead to various forms of punishments. The nature of punishment that is given to violators of the norms is based on the level of importance of the violated norm. A norm that is considered to be more vital has to be highly respected and whoever violates it gets a severe punishment. The two sub-types of gangs are strict on adherence to their culture to the point that one needs to have a clear understanding of the essence of the norms to understand their behavior at any point. In particular, members of the blood are likely to respond violently to a member who fails to abide by their most valued norms. At some point, such a member can be subjected to serious beatings as a way of imparting discipline in him or her. The crisps also respond violently to those who show disrespect to their norm. The two sub-cultures expect obedience to the norm of slang language. One who fails to obey this norm is given a harsh punishment and may be considered a member of the out group. The norm also involves “dissing” as a common behavior pattern. Members of the blood and the crisp take it normal when “dissed” as it is an acceptable practice within the groups (Florida Gang Reduction, 1).
Values of the Blood and the Crisp Subcultures
Cultural values are the shared ideals that are shared by members of a given culture and that determine what is considered acceptable and unacceptable among members of the cultural group. Bloods and Crisps have their own values that influence the members’ mode of behavior and attitude. The values offer a guideline to members of the groups in all situations.
The cultures also determine the people’s language and their respect for each other. The cultures have a special language that they use to communicate among themselves so as to solidify their social relations. Every group of gangs has its special language used as a form of identity. The different languages used by the blood and the crisp are referred to as argot in sociology. Therefore, each of the two cultures has its specific argot that helps their members identify each other (Duffy & Gilling 62).
Members of blood largely value violence and alcoholism. Alcoholism is mainly understood with regards to its negative implications. It is associated with the use of illicit drugs that are capable of endangering addicts’ lives. The members of a blood use alcohol as a binding force. It is an integral part of the group that brings its members together for the sake of socialization. Drinking helps the group to maintain its social cohesion and unity and to show evidence of masculinity and the bond that exists between male members. The feeling of masculinity is also evident with the crisps hence resulting into confrontations between the two groups. The two have distinct drinking styles that can help to differentiate them from each other. The styles help to create a boundary that identifies a gang from another. In most cases, members of the blood fight the crisp due to tensions resulting from rivalry over honor and respect. This makes violence a distinctive characteristic of the two groups of gangs. The groups are also known for their value for given ritual events that are considered vital among members of the distinct groups. Some of the valued rituals include initiation and funerals. During these events, drinking is used as a symbolic value that marks the fulfillment of the essential practices (Florida Gang Reduction, 1).
To show obedience to the group, all members and those that wish to join a gang must be loyal to the values of the group. For example, one has to undergo initiation as a mandatory procedure for joining either the blood or the crisp. During the event, all members, including the new one, have to take alcohol as a show of obedience to the group. Failure to do this is an indication of disrespect and it is not tolerated by the group. This means that one cannot become a member of any gang without taking alcohol as it is a mandatory requirement during the initiation process (Levesque, 410.
Activities of the Blood and the Crisps
As observed with the values, the gang culture is largely associated with violence. Members of the blood and the crisp often carry crude weapons with them for the sake of protection so as to get advantage over others with whom they may engage in conflicts. The tendency of involvement in various forms of physical assault makes gang members arm themselves with such weapons as knives, guns and others for the sake of security. Confrontations are common among between bloods and crisps and the result makes the winning group to be given high status above the losers. The common use of violence for conflict resolution among members of the blood and crisp can be attributed to the low level of education and civilization that is common among the gang members. In most cases, the confrontations occur between members who cannot reason out to solve their differences. As such, they resort to violent confrontations as the only way out of their differences (Florida Gang Reduction 1).
The common violent confrontations between the blood and the crisp and among members of each group are also associated with their frustration resulting from unemployment. Most members can hardly afford a descent life hence they find themselves frustrated every time. Due to this unfortunate situation, members of every gang lack the patience that is essential for peaceful coexistence and conflict resolution. This makes violence the only solution to rivalry that is common among members and between them and members of the out group. In the case of the in-group members, violence often occurs due to internal conflicts like the need to attain supremacy. Such confrontations become more dangerous when they involve innocent out-group like in the case of a blood against a crisp. Violence is also used as the means to punish those who go against the groups’ social values and norms (International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family 1).
The two types of gangs are also known to be organized with each member having his or her status. The organization makes every member; given a particular status in the society to be obliged to perform the responsibilities that are associated with the status. Based on the supremacy of a status over another, the status are differentiated and given powers based on their ranks. A member that has just been recruited into the crisp or the blood occupies a lower status that makes him or her to be junior to other members. Every status has a role that is attached to it. For example, the provision of protection and maintenance of peace within a group of gang are assigned to the O.G. The O.G is perceived to occupy a high position in the group that calls for respect by other members (Hunt & Laidler 1).
The Relationship between the Sub-culture and the Society
Generally, all types of gangs are associated with criminal activities like violent attacks, robbery and other forms of social crimes. The main factor that is used to explain the link between gang members and the social crimes that they engage in is the fact that they are mainly alcoholics. The growing population of bloods and crisps continues to pose a threat to the US communities. The groups of gangs are known to form sophisticated criminal networks that are a great threat to the whole society. The blood is very violent as they involve themselves in violent confrontations with those who do not belong to the group. It is unsafe to associate with them without knowing their values and norms as one may be punished severely for disobedience to the culture. They are also associated with other crimes like the drug business (Carlie, 1). They form links with international drug dealers to assist them in drug trafficking. Most crimes that are committed in the United States are associated with either the blood or the crisp. The government spends heavily in an attempt to reduce the criminal activities of gangs but its efforts have not achieved the most desired results.