Gangs (Groundwork Guides)
Written by Richard Swift.
English translation published by Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2011.
|Street gangs have exploded
worldwide. Tattoos, baggy pants, tagging, gangsta style, the unspoken threat
it's all just around the corner in most of the world's major cities.
Whether it's on native reserves south of Edmonton or in the massive Cape Flats
shantytown that surrounds South Africa's tourist mecca of Cape Town, hundreds
of thousands of "at risk" youth are deciding if they should join their local
For many of the world's young, especially those who are poor as well as young, joining a gang is a real career choice. It is a choice that can be as deadly for the young gangsters as for their victims.
In Gangs, journalist Richard Swift cuts through the fear and self-righteousness that characterize most approaches to gangs. Laying bear the roots and culture of youth gangs in the world's burgeoning cities, he shows that for many members, gang affiliation is a kind of "perverse resistance" to an unequal and unfair world. Zeroing in on the particular forms gangs take in different countries and cities, Swift discusses their reliance on violence, their role in the underground economy, and their relationship with their communities and the police. He shows that we fail to understand gangs at our peril.
Gangs exposes the roots of the problem as it moves from the bidonvilles of France to the favelas of Brazil. It offers a startling analysis of the complicity of the official adult world and some controversial ideas for reforms that might just undermine the appeal of gang life.
About the author: Richard Swift is an internationally regarded journalist and a former editor of New Internationalist magazine. He has done stories from many parts of the world on issues as varied as famine and the plight of farmers, slums, the prison system and struggles for national liberation. Swift is the author of several books including The No-Nonsense Guide to Democracy. He has also worked as a radio journalist. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.
The Groundwork Guides provide an overview of key contemporary political and social issues. Tackling pressing and sometimes controversial topics, these guides offer both a lively introduction and a strong point of view.
[The Groundwork Guides] are excellent books, mandatory for school libraries and the increasing body of young people prepared to take ownership of the situations and problems previous generations have left them. The Globe and Mail
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This page last modified: July 12, 2011
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