I strongly agree that gangs are a type of bureaucracy as well. They possess a lot of the seven characteristics Weber states that can determine whether a bureaucracy exists or not. Gangs are definitely what he describes as a bureaucracy forming and becoming a separate entity from a society. Gangs have formed and become so privatized that they produce their own funding for whatever need that needs to be met. I agree that gangs have specialized tasks, although I personally am not affiliated with a gang, from observing I see that there are separations of roles. In these separations of roles different people perform different tasks. From my observance, I have seen that there is designated “watch out guys” at specific times in the morning and throughout the day. These individuals basically do not leave their posts and when something shifts in assignments or time, I do not see that same person doing something different or even in a different spot. This is by far a bureaucracy that would not allow outside individuals and groups or people in the bureaucracy to destroy it. It has become system that has profited in many ways and will not be destroyed without a fight.
Maja, this is a very interesting way to analyze a gang through the lens of a bureaucracy and how the organization of gang life fits into Weber’s idea. It is very odd to me that something such as the characteristics of a bureaucracy would show up years later to be the way a gang is ran. I feel like you did make a point in that a sociologist went out to the Robert Taylor homes to risk his life in order to understand how a gang operates. I strongly agree with you in that it is a form of a bureaucracy. Everyone in the gang has a specified task; whether it be the running the drugs, watching out for cops, or committing the violent acts. I find this interesting because last year I went there with my sociology class to view the clear divide that has been placed between the gang stricken areas and the high-class areas of the Robert Taylor homes. I had a hard time fathoming that the now high-class area was an area that was riddled with the gang life. It is very interesting to see how a society can change its’ way of life so quickly. Do you think that the moving out of the gangs from the Robert Taylor homes was a form of authority? If so, which would you classify it under? What do you think would happen if each member of the gang did not have set responsibilities? Would it crumble?
After reading about gangs, it brought back to my remembrance my own observations of how gangs operate. Being from New York, it to, just like Chicago, is an urban city where gang activity and illegal activity flourish rampantly. Gang life can be observed and understood differently depending on the location. Although they may have differing geographical locations gangs all have a system by which they function. After learning the characteristics of a gang in relation to Weber’s definition of bureaucracy I now have a better understanding of member’s personality traits. Having known some classmates in high school who were gang affiliated, they all shared common characteristics. Having read the roles and tasks assigned to each role (hierarchy) I view a gang as a business. Therefore my classmates’ personalities resembled that of business men working in an organization: they had specific locations to be at during specified times, they were given tasks, they had to report to certain people, they were required to know how their gang functioned and in conjunction with other groups of people, and most importantly they all had a common goal “maintaining their respect in their neighborhood”. Overall, understanding that gangs can be analyzed as being bureaucratic, the location defines the inner workings of the gang. Gangs themselves are considered a sub-culture within the American society, and the military, politicians, religious groups, etc. are also seen as subcultures. Using as an example the military as being a bureaucratic organization within the governmental sphere, under which sphere does gangs exist?
The idea of a gang being a bureaucracy is a very interesting thought. At the bottom of the page is link found on Google that diagrams the various positions in a gang along with the various duties that are imparted to each position. But what exactly is a gang and what is required to define an entity as being a gang? Television and Hollywood has painted images of how a stereotypical gang member should look. It is interesting to note how Breaking Bad, a current show, is portraying the life of drug dealing and gang violence. In this example, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, the main characters are portrayed as everyday people who resort to drug dealing and gang involvement due to necessity. They are not portrayed as coming from the urban poor and needing to resort to criminal activity in order to make daily life possible. Instead, both come from middle class to upper class backgrounds.
This two man team form their own alliance and distribute their goods through gangs and later a larger drug cartel. Although this depiction might be argued as not being realistic, it beckons you to reevaluate Weber’s concept of bureaucracy. Gangs can be used to loosely depict bureaucracy as defined by Weber, but at what point does it fall apart? Due to criminal activities, gangs will limit written evidence documenting their activities. The issue with gangs is at what point do the members fulfill multiple positions and how does that affect the bureaucracy? It seems as if gangs loosely fit Weber’s model even if they fulfill the entire definition.
Using a gang's structure as an example of a bureaucracy is pretty interesting because of the ways in which society views gang culture. Most people would rather not attribute any potentially positive attribute to gangs because they do see its members as misfits and criminals. However, using Weber's characteristics to draw parallels between gangs and a bureaucracy, it is easy to see the correlation. Although I don't necessarily agree with your estimation that there aren't special qualifications for certain positions in a gang. It seems as if math skills, that not all gang members possess, could be seen as a special skill allowing one who possessed that skill to be most successful in a position that involved supply or maximizing profits. It definitely is interesting to consider how bureaucracy is present in an informal structure because it gives additional credence to the usefulness of the concept. Bureaucracy is so efficient that even gangs use it. Do you think that these informal structures such as gangs use the formal bureaucratic structures as their model or do you think they formed their processes organically out of necessity and practice?
Maja’s analysis on gangs sheds light to bureaucratization beyond the corporate world. In contrary to popular belief, gangs are not disorganized. If one reflects on the gang related activity, gangs have their own business market. At some point, the system will force the gangs to make organization adjustments to be more efficient. This could mean adopting more of the bureaucracy elements. Weber considered bureaucracy, the superior system and means to greater efficiency. Of course, the ideal type of bureaucracy does not really exist. What constitutes a bureaucracy is often contested. Gangs happen to fall within the ambiguous area. Nonetheless, Maja clearly illustrated how gangs fit the model. The most obvious characteristic is the hierarchical structure of the gang. Within this hierarchy, rules bound the gang. According to the National Gang Crime Center, 68.5 percent of gang members surveyed for their research indicated having some written rules. This research supports Maja’s point. Another interesting phenomenon is how new gang members receive training. At gang infested areas, institutions, education system and perhaps the family as well, fail the gang members. It is interesting to consider being part of a gang similar to holding a job. Drug trade is often gang member’s means to get a wage and gain some economic prospects. Do you think the drug dealing business has bureaucratized the gang?
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