A Strong Sense Of Community Essay

A Strong Sense Of Community Essay

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A strong sense of community is not usually an association one makes when thinking about the urban ghettos. It is assumed that inner-city neighbourhoods, which lack formal structures and services, are home to poverty and deviance. However, for Sudhir Venkatesh, author of “Gang Leader for a Day”, a community is what he encounters when observing residents of the largest housing projects in the United States, the Robert Taylor Homes. In poor, racialized neighbourhoods such as the Robert Taylor Homes, there is an idea that there is no social structure in place to provide guidance to young people, who end up getting in trouble. Neighborhoods lacking formal organizations are unable to provide essential services to the community and lack necessary social controls which lead to an inability of a community to regulate public behaviour (Hipp & Steenbeek, 2011). This idea, commonly known as the social disorganization theory, centers on the belief that informal agents of social control, such as family, friends, or neighbours, are essential in crime prevention (Groves and Sampson, 1989). In the novel, Venkatesh reports disorganization through the location and the architecture of the buildings themselves. However, Reiss (1986) argues that it is important to note that organization and disorganization are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they can coexist. Although the Robert Taylor Homes community is rampant with crime and illegal activities, the residents find ways to maintain some form of social control by employing the help of the neighbourhood gang. As well, with an understanding of their shared situation, female members of the community maintain some social cohesion by working together to increase their chances of survival.
As poverty in the...


... middle of paper ...


...quality resources, black single mothers in the community must come together in order to survive.
All in all, disorganisation in the Robert Taylor Homes exist due to the structure of the housing projects, which in turn influence deviant behaviour in the neighbourhood. However, this is not indicative that residents are unable to organize themselves to address problems in the community. Despite their involvement in drug dealing, extortion and gang violence, the Black Kings are believed to be working for the greater good of the community and are needed to bring order. The Black Kings impacts, and sometimes even defines the community. Similarly, social cohesion is maintained by female residents of the community as they work and support each other through hard times. It goes to show that the community both supports and challenges the idea of social disorganization theory.

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