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The Street Casino : survival in the violent street gang

The Street Casino : survival in the violent street gang

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The Street Casino : survival in the violent street gang

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  1. The Street Casino: survival in the violent street gang

  2. Outline • Definitions • Question - why is violence increasing in Lambeth? • Gaming Theory • Key findings

  3. Definition of Gang • ‘a self-formed association of peers, united by mutual interests, with identifiable leadership and internal organisation, who act collectively or as individuals to achieve specific purposes, including the conduct of illegal activity and control of a particular territory, facility, or enterprise’, (Miller 1992)

  4. Why is violence increasing in SW9? Lambeth background context: - Rising violent crime - Limited opportunities for young people – spatial and social exclusion - Dwindling recreational alternatives - Convulsive and dynamic communities – 24% churn 2008; 36% BME, - 12% African; 10% Caribbean - Discredited communities

  5. Research area of SW9 Study Area

  6. Gaming Theory

  7. Gaming Theory, Pierre Bourdieu • Varying chips = unequal levels of player’s capital • Chips = previous winnings / determines future game playing • To advance in life you must accumulate more chips • More chips = more power • Economic capital = white chips • Cultural capital = blue chips • Social capital = red chips • Quality & weight of your chips = your position in the hierarchy • Shared belief in the value of the game • Shared acceptance that the game is worth playing • Subordinates (or new arrivals) yet to master game = fewer chips – thus greater struggle to achieve distinction.

  8. The Game • Distinction is the ultimate prize! • Not just who wins – but what type of player dominates and what type of game will be played in the future. • Rules = assumptions which can be overturned. • ‘the struggle is both over and within the rules’ • A vertical social differentiation of winners and losers with actors jostling for position

  9. How capital works in a social domain Your position depends upon quality and weight of your chips. As capital is unevenly distributed – so are hierarchical power relations. Capital (Chips) can be generated; earned; swapped; won, traded. Individuals employ strategies of capital accumulation to enhance their position within the field. Symbolic capital; social capital, economic capital

  10. The Street Gang • A dangerous arena of social conflict and competition which has recently become more violent • ‘An ensemble of relationships between individuals antagonistically oriented towards the same prizes or values’ • May have different sub-sets/ domains, each interconnected and autonomous. • Possible and credible actions in gang are coordinated by internalised early socialisation – history; habit; tradition • The gang provides goals for the actors within it • Operates as a ‘structured arena of conflict’

  11. Gang Logic • Own internal gang logic • Pertinent only to that gang. Does not apply outside the gang. • Events outside the gang operate outside the logic • A tacit agreement that The Game has value and that the struggle is worth pursing in the first place • All accept the rules of ‘The Game’ • Within the gang the rules, logic and principles are everything

  12. Power Dynamics within the gang

  13. Internal Power Dynamics within the gang Gang = internal struggle for power, dominance, and scare resources - money, respect, status • Interactions are based on hierarchical position – e.g. DowntonAbbey • To advance actors employ ‘investment strategies’ • Incumbents deploy - Conservation strategies • New entrants deploy - Succession strategies – seek dominant positions • Challengers - Subversion strategies – pursued by those with little to gain from dominant groups

  14. And within the social domain of the gang...

  15. Inside the Gang • Street gang is most effective/productive way to obtain economic capital • Conflict, competition, jostling for position • The gang Hierarchy = Elementary tier – (Youngers 13 – 16) Mature tier ( Olders 16-21) Advanced tier (Elders 21 plus) • Elders guard rules of game + control economic capital • Strategists work to build status and Rep and defend their position in hierarchy • Youngers must demonstrate Trust and Commitment. So they build social capital (networks) and cultural capital (knowledge of the street) • Symbolic or cultural capital may be ‘inverted’ ( knowing how to handle a knife) • Knowing Code of the Street

  16. How do Players recognise the value of others in the gang domain? - Street Capital

  17. Street Capital • How do actors recognise and acknowledge other actors in the same domain or their rank? • How do they become competent actors ? • How is this recognised? Street Capital = aggregate of cultural capital (street knowledge) - Street socialisation - Local history - Family connections - Networks - Reputation - Status - Symbolic capital Not street Cred – but Road Ranking

  18. Street Capital

  19. Street Capital • Street capital is held by each individual and also by each gang/group • Fluctuates over time • Tradable commodity • Can allocate it to others • Levels are openly discussed • It is easily recognised by those ‘on Road’ – this ability is crucial

  20. Strategising & The Gang Repertoire

  21. Strategising & The Gang Repertoire • To build market share they must establish themselves as a ‘Playa’ • Done by acquiring a Rep • Reps enhanced via brand name or signature • Established Rep permits entry to ‘the Game’ • Youngers then begin quest to raise street capital • To do this they employ tried and tested strategies – The Gang Repertoire • - series of possible strategies for use individually or collectively

  22. Strategising & The Gang Repertoire

  23. Varying The Gang Repertoire Each strategic action can be varied. This depends upon experience as a ‘Playa’. e.g. Bullying and intimidation...

  24. The ‘Game’ and how to play it

  25. ‘The Game’ and how to play it • Street capital must be:- - Manufactured - Maximised - Maintained - Monitored

  26. Getting started in the Game(Manufacturing Street Capital)

  27. Getting started in the Game(Manufacturing Street Capital) • Get respect – connected; hard man; Brand name; Signature style; Wild; Loyal; cool; unpredictable; not back down • Violation (disrespect) = depreciation in street capital • Disrespect Older/ Elders • Build your Brand! • Adopt a Pre-fix • Build your Rep! • Expressive crime - Violence; graffiti; criminal damage • Fast-tracking a Rep

  28. Keeping your chips – Maintaining your street capital • Being Tested • Transition from Expressive to Instrumental Repertoire • Robbery/ Drugs

  29. Maximising chips/ street capital Two key strategies used:- • 1) Promotions and marketing of individual or gang brand, e.g. video • 2) Group violence and gang incursions, • Facilitates group bonding • Permits members to test strategies • Platform to demonstrate trust and loyalty to peers • Sudden rule change – e.g. MacDonald's shooting

  30. Territoriality/ Postcode Beefs

  31. Territoriality/ Postcode Beefs • Incursions • Not drugs / not territorial gains • Territoriality – opportunities for accelerated reputational (street capital) deflation • Personal relationships • Facebook taunts – opportunities to increase street capital • Fast changing alliances • Easy to be wrong-footed – Slippin’ • Must challenge strangers

  32. The Landscape of Risk

  33. The Landscape of Risk • Normalisation of violence • Family pressure to get involved • High levels of street capital brings invitations to join gang • Others influenced through: - school - grooming - ‘forced’ affiliation - Risk mitigation – protection - Risk mitigation – peer pressure • Individualism

  34. Survival in the Landscape of Risk

  35. Survival in the Landscape of Risk • Must constantly monitor levels of street capital • If falling – will be targeted • Hyper-vigilance! • Slippin’ • Self restrictions • Gang Protection • Multiple allegiance/ temporary allegiance • Visualness/ physicality • Inability to Code-switch

  36. Information = Survival • Centrality of information to gang... • Three 3 key strategies are involved: • Appraisal & monitoring • Marketing / giving out • information • Trading & exchange • Linkage to The Network • Disinformation • Dry-snitching • Social Networking Sites

  37. The role of Girls and Women

  38. The Importance of Social Skill • Men generate Street Capital via violence • GYW must survive social domain of gang • Gender-bias means girls in a double-bind – in competition with each other • Choices are restricted by men • GYW create new positions in hierarchy • Strategically position themselves to maximise their advantage • Generate street capital via social skill not violence • Gives a more equal chance

  39. Social Skills Spectrum Access to Information Risk of victimisation Social Skill Fighting Hiding Fixing/Mixing Network Off Radar Banking Violence Group Girl/ Ho Good Girl

  40. Female Roles / strategic actions • Hiding • Fixing and Mixing • Stolen goods • Activity monitoring • Staying off radar • Laundering and Banking • Influencing sanctions • Public relations

  41. Information Managers • Information = survival • Controlling access to the Network • Trading & Exchanging • Gathering information • Creating and breaking reputations • Social networking sites • Operate at core and periphery

  42. High Risk Activity • Depends upon level of social skill • Employ strategies of risk management • Demonstrate knowledge of the gang domain – mind one’s place/ no grassing • In competition with other girls • If no social skill = increased vulnerability to sexual victimisation • Choices mostly determined by men

  43. Maintaining Social Order • Incumbents oversee gang rules • Gang Tiers • Must transition between tiers • Some Functional Differentiation • Process of Auditioning and testing • If not maintained – Gang Fracturing

  44. The Sanctions Repertoire • Affirmative: • – favours and gifting • Negative:- • Retribution • Religion • Rumour • Distortion • Bullying and intimidation • Honey Traps • Threats to family • Abductions • Firearms

  45. The Street Casino A world of winners and losers, where... - everyone must play... - rules change and incumbents struggle to maintain their privilege... - players are encouraged to continue playing despite meagre returns... - players believe they can stop their risky behaviour whilst still engaging in it...(‘gamblers conceit’) - players believe they must continue to play because their bad luck must end sometime (‘gambler’s fallacy’) - Mostly they play ‘cos it is the only game town... • ...for many, it’s the only game they know.

  46. How do we explain the increase in violence and ferocity of violence in gang–affected areas? • Regenerative, dynamic and evolving • Evolution of gang – hierarchies • Gang is constantly changing – but The Game stays the same.

  47. Boundaries are Relational • Relational not physical • Boundaries not visible – but are dynamic and in constant flux • A widening acceptance of the logic of the gang • The boundary is place where Wannabees flirt with the gang • It is space where gang members can enhance their virtual reputations • Recently increased external pressures with other boundaries , e.g. court appearances leading to further intimidation

  48. Now more players in the Game = increased social competition • Now more, and younger players in the Game – thus extending the gang domain • The social arena is more crowded – more competition • More ways to advance • More ways of being victimised • More ways to diminish a rival’s street capital • Creating a greater need to stand out from the crowd as distinction becomes more difficult

  49. New Arrivals/ new Players • ‘Network poor’ • Most do not yet know the rules of the Game – increased risk of gang affiliation • Thus at high risk • May bring increased violence • Act as challengers?