Social Question

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

Why are people drawn to gangs?

Asked by TheProfoundPorcupine (2549points) February 6th, 2013

What is it that draws people to gangs even though they know that, at least for some, it will include breaking the law in some way at some point?

I ask this as I saw a trailer for a program about biker gangs in the US and indeed it appears to be a part of a series about them and I am interested in the psychology that lies behind it all. What triggers it in some people, but not in others? Have you ever been in one and if so what led you to it?

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21 Answers

Shippy's avatar

A sense of acceptance and belonging I would imagine. Many people who join gangs did not have a good enough family to feel those feelings. Or accepting family life. Sometimes it’s for survival. Not all gangs are bad, some seek a higher good.

rojo's avatar

Many time it is a longing or search for a sense of family or belonging.

HolographicUniverse's avatar

First off groups are not uncommon in society, actually they’re part of social stratification thus people will be drawn to gangs for the same reason you’re drawn to your friends and for the same reasons people in the same fields associate.

Now the reason they participate in criminal activities and “bad behavior” while in these gangs is for some time of gain, whether it be financial or political (for advancement in their cliques) They are oblivious to morals involved with breaking the law because they usually have a sour outlook on life due to some circumstance (could be broken home, unproductive lives etc.)
A good article on this would be one of the many sociological articles available online

marinelife's avatar

They have family issues and need to feel a sense of belonging.

Pachy's avatar

To feel connected and of worth.

filmfann's avatar

In my daughters case, she felt she needed protection at school. She had gone through an attempted rape while walking home from school, and no longer felt her parents or the school or the police would protect her.

SamandMax's avatar

Now is that Biker gangs, or MCCs? Bikers tend to get a raw deal in the press, because it’s usually the notorious ones that cause the stir. Hell’s Angels immediately springs to mind.
Bikers aren’t all bad. Heck, I even knew an ex-Hell’s Angel who became a vicar for a local parish. Just saying. It’s not like the poor bastards get enough stick as it is.

So far everything here that’s been read seems to make sense. Only mush it all together and you have a more complete picture.

kitszu's avatar

Inclusive. Gangs bring you in. You are protected and taken care of.

They make you feel like part of a family.

I’ve been an outcast for most of my life, I understand that need. I’ve finally found my family but others haven’t been as blessed as I have.

HolographicUniverse's avatar

A “sense of belonging” doesn’t exactly answer the question entirely. We have our own little cliques to be inclusive as well, they were asking why still belong when they are engaging in illegal activity

kitszu's avatar

And I’ll answer the way I did before. Read “The Lord of the Flies” and you will understand.

dabbler's avatar

If your parents are abusive, or missing, hanging out in a gang could be safer than hanging out at home.

JLeslie's avatar

I associate gangs with violence and criminal activity, but I don’t associate biker groups as always being gangs, so I am not sure your bike example is actually a gang.

Anyway, to answer the question, as people said above, they want a sense of belonging and protection. Especially young people who might have horrible sitautions at home or are havingg trouble with their parents even when their parents might be decent parents, they find acceptance in gangs when as a teen it is easy to feel different and on the outside.

People who join groups that are not violent are just doing what is pretty nornal for human beings. Most people are drawn to associate with people who have things in common with them whether it be motorcycles, cars, religion, knitting, minority group, etc.

kitszu's avatar

@dabbler I disagree. To me that seems like trading one abusive/violent (etc) situation for another.

A “grass is greener” situation

KNOWITALL's avatar

I was kind of a biker gang groupie when I was young and rebellious, and like a few other people stated it is hard to resist the lure of the benefits.

Of course, once you’re around for awhile you learn the negatives generally outway the positives, and if you’re lucky & smart you get out before any permanent harm is done to your psyche, your body or your criminal record. It’s a tough life and the things that happen are not something most people want to be involved with. I was blocked in my driveway & threatened, and almost killed trying to get out.

SamandMax's avatar

Assuming you already have a criminal record to get further damage done to it anyway.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@SamandMax Yeah, my record is perfect because I saw some bad stuff and immediately backed out. Just better to learn via fluther or something, rather than going through it, trust me.

SamandMax's avatar

Of that much, I am aware :)~

Paradox25's avatar

Unfortunately in the real world the good guys don’t wear white and the bad guys don’t wear black. Even decent people can and do get rejected by the so-called ‘good’ peers, so they might be attracted to those who would be at least somewhat accepting of them. Who is anyone to judge another because of who they associate with? There are obvious exceptions to my latter point of course but still you should get my point here.

Gangs, cliques, groups, cults, etc are for the most part very much the same things to me: being around the people of your choice that you can identify with the most for the time being, and most of us tend to do this.

mattbrowne's avatar

The human brain was shaped during the time of the hunters and gatherers.

rojo's avatar

@mattbrowne I have always thought that we decended from gatherers and scavengers. Hunting skills evolved later.

mattbrowne's avatar

Spear tips are older than the homo sapiens species, see

So hunting skills existed even before the appearance of homo sapiens.

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