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Episode 138 - Dr. Robert Duran: "Smile Now, Cry Later": Gang Life - An Insider's Journey

Monday, March 03, 2014, 8:54:16 AM

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In this episode, Dr. Robert Duran discusses what he has learned in 20 years of being involved in, observing, and researching gangs. His unique perspective lends him multiple lenses to inform and challenge conventional wisdom related to what gangs offer their members, the contexts in which they form, and what holds them together.

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Average Rating: 5stars  podcast #138 review, Monday, February 02, 2015

By Zoe G.S :

This podcast on gang life with Robert Duran is a particularly special one. Not only is Dr. Duran an expert in this field, but he himself grew up in a gang, and has had firsthand experiences with this lifestyle, giving him an insider’s perspective. Dr. Duran is able to give listeners two perspectives to learn from; that of someone who has spent time researching gang history, and the other from someone who has actually experienced the appeal of gang life. Dr. Duran touches upon the fact that many of today’s urban experts and researchers, have done their research on gangs from afar. The importance of his work is that he understands gang life firsthand. He discusses how gangs historically form in the face of poverty and oppression. When people feel misunderstood by society they often will strive to seek out those like them. I think it is an innate human desire to find their social niche and be amongst others who understand them. And this plays an influential role in how gangs are formed. He also discussed how gang involvement is often looked at through a law enforcement lens. Society is more focused on criminalizing gang members, than actually stopping gang involvement with treatment. I think this is an important idea to keep in mind for social workers, because we have the ability to help change the way in which society looks at helping groups such as gangs. If there is a shift in how society works with gangs, perhaps that could help ameliorate gang difficulties in certain areas. Overall, this podcast was extremely eye opening and informative. Growing up in rural Vermont, most of what I knew about these groups were from TV shows and movies, neither very credible sources. Dr. Duran’s research, as well as personal anecdotes, really helped to shape my understanding of gang life. Listening to this podcast was more like listening to someone’s own personal story as opposed to just their research, and I think that is what makes it a really great listen.

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