The author of “Gang Leader for a Day”, Sudhir Vankatesh, delivers an intimate look into a world most people would prefer to ignore. In the book, the graduate student formed a friendship with a local gang leader and was able to get the inside information of the gang’s role in the Chicago housing projects. ABC’s 60 Minutes and National Geographic have made outstanding videos describing in great detail, gang life. Girls in the Hood, by ABC, informs that the notion of only males in gangs is false; that there are strong female leaders that are much involved in the gang as much as males. “Maximum Security”, by 60 Minutes, informs the audience about how gang leaders turned Pelican Bay, a prison fortress, into their own head courters of criminal activity. “World most Dangerous Gang”, by National Geographic, describes how important it is to deal with violent gangs and not make the same mistake twice. Sudhir Vankatesh is a brave sociologist who wanted to live the life of the very thing he studied. In 1989, Vankatesh was a graduate student from University of Chicago and for his research he had come to spend time with the Black King gang. The author stayed in the Robert Taylor housing project which was next to the university; although, the staff of the university made it clear that these areas were places to be avoided. He started to attend seminars that analyzed typical sociological enquiries which he felt did not portray an accurate sociological prospective of the people who lived in the projects. He liked the questions the researchers were asking, but compared them with the vibrant life he saw on the streets of Chicago, the discussion of these seminars seemed cold and distant. The author decided to go with the direct approach in which he had a firsthand experience in his research, instead of a more common approach of using surveys and questionnaires. The biggest reason why Vankatesh did not want to base his research on surveys is because their validity is not one hundred percent accurate. Vankatesh’s research method was not clear to him when he approached Hyde Park for the first time. It is understood that throughout the book he used the participant and observation method: seeing people face to face. He meets J.T at the park and soon realizes that he is a Black King Gang member. They form an unusual friendship because they are both intrigued with each other. J.T. has a college degree and he had a job but he felt that he could not grow within the workforce due to his ethnicity. The blue-collar occupation that J.T. worked at could not promise better pay so he had to go back to the projects where he grew up and ran the Black King Gang. His authority was easy to achieve because he was well known throughout the project community. He mostly dealt with people like a business man but sometimes he had to put people in line through brutal violence. The Robert Taylor homes housed many poor African Americans which results in de facto (‘in actual fact”) segregation. The occupants consisted mainly of single parent homes which attributed to their socio financial status. The deprived African Americans experience hypersegregation because of the geo-political region. The local law enforcement’s lack of presence encourages locals to seek the Black King Gang for justice. J.T, gang’s leader, regulates the kind of punishment suitable for each situation. After Brass and C-Note went against J.T.’s rule to make Vankatesh leader for a day they were brutally assaulted. The consequence of their behavior resulted in punishment sanction that encouraged conformity to the gang’s cultural norms. The Black King Gang organizes itself to efficiently perform responsibilities. The bureaucratic gang has a “Board of Directors” at the top of it hierarchy that oversees the grand operation. J.T. is an instrumental leader because he focuses on completing tasks. His take charge attitude and outgoing personality are all traits of a born leader. As a leader he...
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