Gang Violence


For this paper, you are to write a paper of at least 750 words that relates to 1 of the sociological theories reviewed in this course: symbolic interactionism, class conflict theory, or functional analysis. Any citation used must adhere to current APA format.

Complete the following for the Social Problems Paper:
• Write an essay on a current social issue of your choice such as: homelessness, gang violence, the feminism of poverty, the culture of poverty, teen pregnancy, abortion, etc.
• The first portion of the assignment must address your personal observations of the issue with examples. Discuss the topic in reference to how society and the church each address the issue and how each provides or does not provide support. Your observations of society and the church must be very detailed (approximately 500 words).
• In the last part of the assignment, you are to analyze the issue using 1 of the 3 main sociological theories discussed in this course (approximately 250 words).

Sample paper

Gang Violence

Gang violence is a growing concern among law enforcement officers in the United States. Over the recent past, there has been an alarming increase in the number of gangs, with a corresponding increase in the number of gang-related incidences. Gang activity occurs mainly in the densely populated areas and larger cities. An example is the City of Chicago, which has a relatively higher population compared with other U.S. cities. Chicago has recorded the highest incidences of gang-related homicides, making it one of the most dangerous cities to live. From my observations, most gangs sprout in regions where there are high poverty rates, low educational attainment, and overcrowding. These deplorable conditions force many young individuals into a life of crime. In communities where there is breakdown of moral values due to reasons such as high poverty rates, people are likely to engage in crime because of disillusionment.

High poverty levels in the society contribute to increased incidences of crime. Individuals find it difficult to break the endless cycle of poverty due to lack of opportunities. In areas with high poverty levels, educational standards are also low. Majority of youths drop out of school even before they complete high school. Such youths become part of cliques that do odd jobs in order to earn a living. With time, the group starts engaging in deviant acts, such as selling of illegal drugs or committing small robberies. Such groups evolve with time as members mature and begin engaging in criminal activities such as drug trafficking. It is difficult for a gang member to leave the group since besides the social role it plays; the group also functions as a source of income. Youths who desire to leave also face immense challenges such as lack of jobs. Moreover, such youths have their names in police records, which mean that employers may shun from giving them work.

The society addresses the issue of gang violence through various ways. First, the society provides institutions for incarcerating criminals who are dangerous to the society. Through incarceration, the offender is given a chance to reform his/her behavior. Another role of incarceration is to punish the offender and to deter others from committing a similar crime. The society provides institutions for rehabilitating criminals such as drug addicts. This is an important role since it gives the offenders a second chance to change their life. The society provides education opportunities for all members. Nonetheless, the society does not provide equal employment opportunities and resources. This means that some youths are unable to find jobs or resources, turning them into a life of crime.

The church addresses the issue of gang violence through a number of ways. First, the church instills proper moral values upon individuals. Proper moral values can help in deterring youths from engaging in criminal activities. The church can reach out to the youths with an aim of transforming their lives through teachings. Another way that the church addresses the issue is through mediation between rival gangs. In the past, some church leaders have taken an active role in helping reduce gang violence by brokering some form of truce between waring gang members. The church, however, does not provide employment opportunities to the youths.

The symbolic interactionism theory is applicable to the problem of gang violence in the society today. The basic tenet of the theory holds that “human beings act toward things on the basis of the meanings that the things have for them” (Blumer, 1986, p. 2). Thus, the manner in which an individual constructs meaning from his/her interaction with various objects or people is important. The theory assumes that individuals develop meaning of things from the social interaction with others. Another assumption is that individuals interpret the meanings encountered in social interactions through a unique process (Blumer, 1986). Drawing on this theory it is clear that gang members stick together since this has some deep meaning for them. Gang membership may be a source of friendship to some members, while others may value it due to the monetary rewards associated. Gang membership is also a source of security in some of the dangerous communities.

The symbolic interactionism theory asserts that individuals need only to construe meaning from the thing. Individuals need only to observe the thing and draw meaning. As such, there is no process involved in developing meaning, but only an association with the thing. The elements involved in developing memory about the thing are motives, feelings, sensations, attitudes, and ideas that an individual may harbor (Blumer, 1986). For instance, one may enter into gang membership with the motive of supplying drugs in the community. Symbolic interactionism associates meaning with the kind of interaction that occurs between two people, rather than dwelling on the psychological connection between them. Thus, when gang members interact, it is all because of the social interaction and the fulfillment of different physical and psychological needs by belonging in the group.


Blumer, H. (1986). Symbolic interactionism: Perspective and method. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Class Conflict Theory