Home Institution

Hawaii Pacific University

Publication Date

Fall 2014

Program Name

South Africa: Multiculturalism and Human Rights


This project is looking to examine and understand the reasons why some people join gangs while others avoid involvement with gangsterism. Gangsterism in Cape Town today is an extremely current topic due to the large numbers of gangs and gang members in the region and the violence that is connected to it. The study sought to look into the multiple and possible reasons why a life of gangsterism seem to be so attractive to many young people. To understand the other side of the issue, a second objective was to understand why other people stay away from gangsterism, which include successful prevention methods. The study was carried out by interviewing people that work with gang activity and with youth in or at risk of gangsterism. People growing up surrounded by gangs but that did not join one was also interviewed about their experiences. To further the source of information, a questionnaire was also used. To create a wider background and understanding of the topic, secondary sources were also used in the research. The finding s of the study shows that there are numerous reasons that might cause a person to join a gang or to stay away from gangsterism. Some of the most discussed reasons include: sense of belonging, family situation, poverty, peer pressure, protection, and lack of social structures and support. For prevention methods, or reasons why people avoid gangs, the most commonly mentioned reasons include education, alternative activities, and social and community support. The paper then will discuss these reasons in more detail to better understand them. The paper concludes that it is impossible to name one reason that causes people to join gangs. Rather, it is a combination of multiple different reasons that differ depending on region, culture, and the individual. Because of this, it is also impossible to name one prevention method that is universal, since the prevention too will differ depending on the same reasons as to why people do join gangs.


African Studies | Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Research | Criminology | Family, Life Course, and Society | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance


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