Globalization is the hip and new trend when the discussion focuses on certain social aspects like technology, economy, business, commerce, media, entertainment, sports and communication. This is owed generally to the impact of globalization to the way individuals live in the modern day, 21st century world. Globalization is the idea that individuals can reach each other despite geographical and other boundaries that made globalization impossible before and kept life strictly local or regionalized.
With the entry of the trend of globalization, the world has embraced a new concept of the world which is now closely interlinked, countries acting like small communities that houses citizens that can freely interact with citizens of another countries in real time despite the thousand miles of separation and the difference in time zones. Many believed that globalization is generally a good idea – viewers in China can watch the National Basketball Association Finals game real time, while students in Pakistan, Australia and Greenland can talk with each other simultaneously via the use of the Internet.
Banking became flexible and ceased to be country-centric, and trade and commerce saw a bigger opened door that pitted international and local businessmen in a toe-to-toe battle since globalization in trade and commerce commenced. But not all of the effects of the globalization is viewed as a very positive spin on things. Everyone has caught the globalization bug, and to make sure that they do not get left behind, the street gangs of the United States of America has also stepped up and made important restructuring steps to ensure that the operation of their specific gangs transcends localized action.
The street gangs of the US has gone global, and why not? As much as it is a peer group that grows because of the fulfilment of what street gangs promises to provide its members, affiliates and partners in a personal level (affinity, protection, a sense of belonging and brotherhood, etc), these same street gangs of US are also thriving because of their role in local (and now, global) albeit sometimes illegal economy. What does it mean to have a US street gang globalized?
It does not directly mean that these gangs establish branches outside of US territory, say for example, Crips-China or Bloods-South Korea: this idea is at worst preposterous since the very core idea of the formation of street gangs is the creation of a self imposed fiefdom over a particular neighbourhood which they consider as their turf, the seat of their power. The creation of branches or extensions in other places or other countries will make these loosely structured gangs akin to the rigid structuring of legitimate fraternities, which they are from.
While it is not far fetched that the idea of branching out happened to any of the street gangs in the US sooner or later, the globalization of these gangs is not merely defined or limited using this particular precept: they become globalized once their ‘operation’ ceases to be limited to localized action, distribution and supply pipeline construction; they become globalized when they maximize and utilize any and all available technology so that they connect with other gangs and similar entities across the globe; they become globalized when their existence becomes a part of pop culture or socially shared common knowledge even in places they haven’t even been before, due mainly to the role of mass media and how gangs are always included in entertainment materials beamed and telecast in different parts of the world, introducing them to this kind of social strata; they become globalized when their status improves to that of global prestige and renown.
Klein (2001) supports the thinking of the natural course of pattern of growth of local US street gangs going outward, saying that “we have exported our American street gang culture abroad” and adding that “there are Crips in the Netherlands” and that “the particular forms of European gangs seem similar to those to be found in the United States” (pg 237). These copycat street gangs followed the same US street gang roles in their own countries, doing their part in their part of the world while US street gangs did theirs in America. Schaeffer (2002) said that “foreign mafias were based close to drug supplies but far from US government prosecutors. This meant they were better placed to obtain drugs and evade the law, particularly since government authority was weak in their host countries. There were also able to establish connections with young, aggressive street gangs based in US immigrant communities” (pg 356).
The Triggers of Globalization – Like all of the other aspects of life affected by the entry of globalization, these street gangs did not just go global by itself; instead there were external triggers that acted as catalyst towards the change that these gangs experienced from being local entities to global participants. The triggers prompted the change; they allowed the gang members to see the potential and possibility of going global, in effect selling the idea of globalisation to these groups and enforcing the compulsory change at the same time. Some of these triggers include internet, telecommunications infrastructure, music, written media and movies.
More and more people are becoming more cognizant of these gangs and how they work, and many impressionable kids who want to emulate the characteristics of the gang members utilize the internet for information. Even the amount of related literature available about US street gangs is voluminous, owing to the fact that street gangs and their lives and actions has been intensively chronicled by news as well as academic studies resulting to written works published both via the Internet and traditionally. Even in popular movies, music videos and television shows, US street gangs have already earned a niche as a particular group present in the modern day setting. These allowed the US street gangs to earn international notoriety and fame, and at the same time advertise themselves to the worldwide audience.
At some point, these tools blew the US street gangs out of the proportion – they were overrated but criminal organizations put them inside their operations, and the resulting globalized popularity made law enforcement efforts versus street gangs in the country more stringent and strict. Conclusion – Globalization is a freight train that bumps off anyone that stands in the way, and street gangs in the US will not be exempted from the impact of globalization. Not that these gangs considers this as a bad thing to happen to them; its just that globalization imposed itself upon these gangs and not the other way around, globalization dictating the terms to which street gangs made itself amenable too, in exchange for effects that made US street gangs see more than one reason to thank globalization.
Something happened to US street gangs, and that is globalization, and like any other social aspect affected by globalization, the US street gangs are changing and metamorphosing – for one, they are far from the ethos of old-school street gangs which exist solely to establish and maintain their fiefdom and establish a social status quo to their liking, particularly those under the blanket of underground and subculture worlds where sin and city merges. Now, street gangs are more business minded; they make themselves effective business entities not by power dressing nor by publicity campaign, but by the use of the only remnant of the old street gang type, a feature still found in the new and globalized street gang – violence, raw power and intimidation.
The neighbourhood is now not merely a place they fight for group pride and bragging rights; it has become more important to them because it is an important section of the global pipeline to which their operation and existence depend, may it be drugs, counterfeit money, small arms, black market technology, intelligence, prostitutes, automobiles, gambling etc. Looking at the history of street gangs, it is quite predictable that such international networks would be developed sooner or later, and it is found in the very nature of the creation of street gangs. Going back to the time when the US is still starting to become a new place in the world where people can live, many different individuals with varying ethnicities and cultural background flocked the country. Naturally, there will be groups that will be dominant over the other, and there will be minority groups whose members will soon try to assimilate with those of their own ‘kind’. These are a fairly tribal instinct.
Soon, the disharmony that exists between the ruling majority and the minority will become intolerable that a new group will try (and will either succeed or fail) in usurping the former majority group. This will be the cycle inside the society, and those who will grow up will find these affiliations necessary for self preservation. This is the formula that created all African-American street gangs, all Latino street gangs, all Chinese-American street gangs, all Japanese-American street gangs, etc. Soon, these groups with lineage in other countries beside America will be reconnected with their home country, and being American-Japanese, American-Chinese, and American-Mexican allows for the creation of a connection between these two countries.
What the street gangs do in the US will be offered in the country where they have an affiliation to (i. e. the Latin Kings participating in drugs, guns and prostitution operations undertaken by Mexican or even Colombian crime lords, the street gangs acting as pawns and small, localized lords representing big, transnational criminal organizations). Even the transformation is natural; street gangs is as much a separate and independent type of social group as it is an integral part in the growth and regression phases of criminal groups that were once street gangs that become powerful criminal organizations and regressed back to becoming small, street gangs.
Huff (1996) comments, “For decades, very few gangs have evolved from adolescent street gangs into adult criminal organizations” (pg 74), while for Repetto (2006), these groups have the tendency sooner or later to experience “regressing from sophisticated criminal cartels back to street gangs” (pg 9).
References: Reppetto, Thomas. (2006). Bringing Down the Mob: The War Against the American Mafia. Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated. Ronald, Huff C. (1996). Gangs in America. University of Michigan. Sage Publications. Ronald , Huff C. (November 2001). Gangs in America III. SAGE Publications. Schaeffer, Robert K. (January 2002). Understanding Globalization: The Social Consequences of Political, Economic, and Environmental Change. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
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