Social Bonds: Aboriginals Essay

2859 words - 12 pages

As many prominent scholars have postulated, there is very little research addressing the multifaceted dynamics with respect to Aboriginal gang involvement from a Canadian perspective. This paper intends to advance the understanding of the pathways involved in Aboriginal gang formation, recruitment and participation by critically examining the historical and institutional impediments, which have contributed to the facilitation of this phenomenon. In the process, this paper will apply the foremost tenets of social control theory in order to provide a holistic account of the context that enables the proliferation of Aboriginal gangs within Canada. Correspondingly, the formulation of these results will subsequently be useful for policy-makers and others who hope to find solutions to the challenges associated with the paramount issue of Aboriginal overrepresentation, an epidemic that the Supreme Court of Canada has referred to as, “a crisis in the Canadian justice system” (Rudin 2005, 1). With this intention, social control theory will be utilized in order to explain how colonialism manifests itself contemporarily, resulting in the inhibition of the internalization of conventional societal bonds for Aboriginal youth and the consequent perpetuation of Aboriginal gangs.
Social Control Theory: Hirschi’s social control theory has been pervasively used to explain the occurrence of gangs and specifically gang membership. However, rather than focusing solely on why individuals choose to become involved in criminal behaviour including organized crime, Hirschi begins his analysis by asking, “Why do most persons conform to societal norms?” (Abadinsky 2010, 25). Consequently, according to Hirschi individuals choose to engage in delinquent behaviour and pursue a criminal career through gang activity when their social bond to society is deteriorated (Wortley 2008). Given this, proponents of social control theory seek to explore how the social bond individuals develop towards society inhibits or facilitates the progression of criminal dispositions. As a result, social control theory assumes that individuals are inherently bound to offend since every person is regarded as having the propensity to become involved in criminal activity (Jones et al, 2004). This assumption is based upon the hedonistic principle of maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain, which assumes that most humans would resort to crime given the opportunity, because it is the easiest way to satisfy desires and succeed (Grekul and LaBoucane-Benson, 2007). However, those who develop high stakes in conformity do not become involved in criminal activity due to the fact that they are bonded to society and not free to commit delinquent acts. In other words, by employing a cost/benefit analysis the conforming actor perceives the costs related to the social bonds they have to lose through participation in criminal activity as too high.
With respect to the context of Aboriginal gangs, factors that are...

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