Essay about Gang Leader For A Day By Sudhir Venkatesh

Essay about Gang Leader For A Day By Sudhir Venkatesh

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In the book “Gang Leader for A Day”, Sudhir Venkatesh, a sociologist in graduate school at the University of Chicago, did research in the projects with young men affiliated with gangs. The way he did it was so different because he actually presented himself in some of the most ghetto and dangerous projects. Sudhir Venkatesh first interacted with a gang when he went to a poor community asking questions. Venkatesh assignment was to get some information through gang members by asking them straight up questions, which they took offensive. Venkatesh learned that was not the way to approach gang members because anything bad could happen to him. After the gang members had him on lock down, because they thought he was a Mexican gang member, they told him he can’t just ask people questions because 9 times out of 10, people will interrupt it the wrong way and he won’t get the full correct response he is looking for. The gang leader, J.T, basically told him, he’s form of invitation, he had to “hang out” with them. He had to “understand how young people live on the streets.”
At first he was scared because he would question himself about if what he was doing legal. Everything Venkatesh saw was so shocking at first because he was trying to get a grasp of how things worked in the community. J.T, the gang leader, was okay with Venkatesh recording or writing about everything he saw but he didn’t really know what he was actually doing.
This book is unique because the sociologist’s desire to get information inside a gang leader life. He learned how things worked around there after 7 years of doing research, which was hanging out with J.T and the gang called Black Kings. Venkatesh got the feel of how gangs functioned, the drug economy worked, and h...


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... as Venkatesh described his experience. Another issue that I personally have witnessed is people not feeling they are smart enough to attend college and end up in a gang or the drug economy. With my own experience and knowledge from the book, I came to realize that many gang members live in poverty and for this they use their gang as a means of survival.
In conclusion, the main topics that stood out to me in this book were J.T.’s background before his time as a gang leader and Venkatesh’s day in the shoes of J.T. Racial issues were the main reason J.T quit everything and that had ultimately led him to gang affiliation. Many Americans today suffer from the same problem. Venkatesh’s experience as an actual gang leader intrigued me because I have the same experience. Overall, I think the book was a great way to introduce people in the gang world, relating to sociology.

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