Gangs and Competition

Not all of us are able to grow up in communities and families with loving family values who support our educational, emotional, and physical needs. Some of us must think of survival before developing healthy relationships, and it is in these circumstances we turn our attention to our next topic, Gangs. Those people who choose gang involvement typically do so for many reasons. Poverty, lack of resources, and a sense of involvement and support typically head the list. After all, who of us do not which for access to money, security, and the unquestioned support which comes from those who say that they care deeply for us? The lure of social status also comes into play, as those of us with nothing can claim responsibility and dominance over entire neighborhoods, and entire populations with which we grew up.

However, these decisions continue competitive thinking. The desire to be the best, and have a hierarchical advantage over others can take place in high income areas as well as low. The desire to “keep up with the Jones’s” is the same inherent desire in all of us as the desire to ensure safe territory for our family, or surrogate family described in gang societies. However, due to the lack of overall security, these are typically enforced with maximum defense of competitive edge: you cannot be beaten if your enemy is dead. Hence, we take the theories of competitiveness into a situation where life itself hangs in the balance. Moreover, we join with others who believe the same thing, and will protect us to ensure both their survival and prosperity as well as ours.

Those gangs who have flourished in today’s world have done so with several of the theories I have proposed in Competitive Theory. Rather than competing within the gang itself for supremacy, there is a clear indication of roles within the gang, with flexibility for change based on approved behavior. While this may appear antisocial to those outside the gang, securing additional territory for drug sales, eliminating threats by violence or intimidation, or providing the emotional backing to other gang members through physical presence are all types of thought which make any organization of people successful, including families. How these gangs describe themselves as families is intriguing, as we can wonder how families might be able to take some of this structure to improve our situation while leaving the negative aspect of gang lifestyle behind. Would gangs be as horrific if the emotional support, security, and prosperity they provide in culture can be achieved without the violence and illegal activity? Couldn’t that be described as healthy family relationships?

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