Deviance and Social control ??” Writing Assignment

The documentary, “Bastards of the Party,” examines gangs in Los Angeles. Among the documentary’s many strengths is its historical perspective. The filmmaker is asking what factors, over a long period of time, contributed to the emergence of African-American gangs in Los Angeles.

You can watch the film online at:
or Google: “Bastards of the Party” and it will come up on

The assignment is to apply one theory, or a combination of theories and concepts (for example, subcultures), we’ve discussed in class to analyze the emergence, development, evolution and culture of Los Angeles gangs as presented in the documentary. The essay should not be a description of what “happens” in the film (e.g., first, African Americans migrated to Los Angeles, then they were treated bad, then gangs formed to protect themselves, then the Watts riot occurred, then the Black Panther party emerged, etc.). An analysis strives to develop a thesis to explain how and why.

The main theories of deviance and social control that are applicable include (but are not exhaustive):

a. Structural Strain and Anomie Theory; might include “Goals/Means Gap” and Cloward and Ohlin’s “Illegitimate Means and Delinquent Subcultures.”
What social structural conditions compelled young black men in Los Angeles to form/join gangs? Consider economic conditions, racism, blocked legitimate opportunities/illegitimate opportunities.
b. Social Learning Theory; this may include Hirschi’s Social Control Theory.
Socialization is a fundamental factor in this approach. How did the social conditions of African Americans in Los Angeles impact socialization of young black men? You can consider any or all of of the decades examined in the film.
c. Conflict Theory ??” any or combination of different versions.
Consider the power and relations in Los Angeles. How did/does the “white power structure” treat African Americans, from the 1940s through to the present (social control)? Consider segregation, the police, economic downturn, etc. What was response of black community in Los Angeles, especially the different generations of young people?
d. Labeling Theory (may include Stigma and Development of Self)
Throughout the film institutionalized racism (systematic racism through social institutions ??” economic, political, etc.) is demonstrated; and labeling and its outcomes of exclusion and treatment of “deviants” is a major aspect of racism. How and why did racism and labeling contribute to emergence and development of early and later forms of black gangs in Los Angeles?

To Repeat: These are just some of the ways of approaching and analyzing the film. Use your imagination and interest in devising your own approach.

In a short paper it is impossible to discuss every aspect covered in the film, or every theoretical model that contributes to explaining the social issue. I recommend that you focus on a particular aspect or factor, and theory(s) and concepts that help explain that aspect.

Your discussion should include a specific explanation of the theory(s) and concepts you are using. When appropriate, use examples from the documentary.

Your discussion should be based on, and reference, not only the film but course material ??” the textbook and relevant handout readings.

1. 3-5 pages, typed. This does not include title or references pages.
2. Essay format
3. Double spaced, 12 point font
4. Paginate (number the pages)
5. Correct citation of readings, quotes, etc. ??” I will deduct points.
a. In text of essay, cite source of information/evidence: for example (Thio 2009,210)
b. You must include a Reference page, with full citation of sources referenced in text of essay.
6. Spell and grammar check ??” I will deduct points
7. Above all ??” don’t plagiarize! For information on plagiarism, as well as when and how to properly cite sources, go to the UHD library webpage.