A World of Gangs: Armed Young Men and Gangsta Culture

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University of Minnesota Press, 2008 - Political Science - 198 pages

For the more than a billion people who now live in urban slums, gangs are ubiquitous features of daily life. Though still most closely associated with American cities, gangs are an entrenched, worldwide phenomenon that play a significant role in a wide range of activities, from drug dealing to extortion to religious and political violence. In A World of Gangs, John Hagedorn explores this international proliferation of the urban gang as a consequence of the ravages of globalization.

Looking closely at gang formation in three world cities-Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, and Capetown-he discovers that some gangs have institutionalized as a strategy to confront a hopeless cycle of poverty, racism, and oppression. In particular, Hagedorn reveals, the nihilistic appeal of gangsta rap and its street ethic of survival "by any means necessary" provides vital insights into the ideology and persistence of gangs around the world.

This groundbreaking work concludes on a hopeful note. Proposing ways in which gangs might be encouraged to overcome their violent tendencies, Hagedorn appeals to community leaders to use the urgency, outrage, and resistance common to both gang life and hip-hop in order to bring gangs into broader movements for social justice.

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About the author (2008)

John M. Hagedorn is associate professor of criminal justice and senior research fellow at Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is editor of Gangs in the Global City; co-editor of Female Gangs in America: Essays on Girls, Gangs, and Gender; and author of the highly influential People and Folks: Gangs, Crime, and the Underclass in a Rustbelt City.

MacArthur fellow Mike Davis is professor of history at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of many books, including Planet of Slums, City of Quartz, and Ecology of Fear.

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