Gangs mostly are unsupervised peer groups. Some are from oppressed minority groups and others are drawn from dominant groups. Some gangs persist over years and even decades due to their relationship with powerful elites from their ethnic group, as the gangs tied to the Shiv Sena in Mumbai (Bombay, India), the Bakassi Boys in Nigeria, or the Irish Social Athletic Clubs in early 20th century Chicago.

Some gangs from minority groups also have persisted over decades, such as the Hard Livings Gang in Cape Town or the Gangster Disciples, latin Kings, and Vice Lords, of Chicago, or the Crips & Bloods in Los Angeles.

Both of these kinds of gangs can be said to "institutionalize" meaning it persists despite changes in leadership (e.g. killed, incarcerated, or “matured out”), has organization complex enough to sustain multiple roles of its members (including roles for women and children), can adapt to changing environments (e.g. police repression) without dissolving, fulfills some needs of its community (economics, security, services), and organizes a distinct outlook of its members (sometimes called a gang “subculture”).




Dominant Group or

Oppressed Group or




Industrial Era US ethnic gangs; Most European male &

female gangs and

all unsupervised    peer groups of



Most Black,Latino,

& Asian male &

female US gangs.

German Turkish,

British Bangla-

deshi, and

New Zealand

Maori gangs.Most

Third World gangs



US "Voting Gangs", Triads in Asia,  

Hindu mandals in

India; US mafia &

Russian mafiya; Japanese Yakuza Colombian &

Nigerian cartels.

Chicago and LA


Chinese Tongs;

Some South

African Black,


Indian gangs

Many prison gangs

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