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Title: Beyond the street : gang entry and exit on the Cape Flats
Author: Dziewanski, Dariusz
ISNI:       0000 0004 7960 6274
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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This project analysed the life histories of ex-members of Cape Flats gangs, focusing on their entry into, and exit from, gang life. Their participation in gangsterism shows us how gang members embody violent street culture and reproduce a street habitus generated by the poverty, racism, and segregation that structures the lives of many Capetonians. But in leaving gangs, they also show how aspects of Bourdieusian criminology (street capital, street field, and street habitus) can be applied to move beyond typical readings of streetbased social reproduction. To start, research indicates that violent virtuosos can commit extraordinary acts of aggression to master street life, destabilizing expectations, and logic by which the streets are made and remade. Further, those that can make it out of gangs are able to break down the embodied street dispositions, and build up new, non-street dispositions to transition away from the structuring power of the gang. Gang members exited street life for a normal life, which was created through compositions of non-street repertoires relating to family, work, and faith. The repertoires of normal life offered research participants important forms of social and cultural capital, amidst the disadvantage and disempowerment of township life. Research reorients street culture from an emphasis on social reproduction towards a fuller account of social transformation. Like this, the agent-structure relationship present in Bourdieusian social theory (which has so far favoured the objectifying force of structure) can be revised to restore personal agency. The struggles of the subjects of this research project are compelling examples of how the objective limitations of street life in Cape Town can be overcome.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral