Gang Leader For A Day


“Gang Leader For A Day” written by Sudhir Venkatesh, is based on real life events witnessed by Venkatesh during his research project at the University of Chicago. Venkatesh was studying sociology when he was assigned the task to prepare a dissertation regarding the conditions of the poor people of his society. In order to get the best possible material for his assignment he headed towards the streets of the city and looked for realistic problems and causes.

On his journey Venkatesh befriended a gang leader named J.T. at the Robert Taylor Homes and started working with him. Upon their first meeting J.T. had advised Venkatesh to avoid asking direct question with gang members and told him to spend some time with them. He did what he was told and spent about 7 years with J.T. and the gang and started learning about the working of these underground societies and groups. During his stay, Venkatesh came across a number of events and incidents which made him realize the bitter realities of life. In his book Venkatesh explains us about the different causes which are responsible for the misery of some classes and societies. During his stay with J.T. he meets different people and learns about this undisclosed world. He has mentioned about his interactions with drug smugglers, thieves, prostitutes, etc and learns about their way of living and most importantly how they ended up like this. It is the most important feature of his book i.e. an understanding of the causes which lead these people in a lifestyle like this.

Venkatesh writes and mainly blames the capitalist system for the misery and criminal activities. He is not at all supporting Marxism, but he is of the view that the capitalist lifestyle has compelled poorer people to look for illegal and unethical alternatives to make a living and make their place in the society. He mentions that are different gangs, which are divided into several categories. Each category is responsible for specified tasks and they are run by a proper but illegal administration.


We see that Venkatesh explains us about the lifestyle of different gangs and poor people living in Chicago. He has written about their daily routines and described their reasons for being here. Besides this, Sudhir has blamed the capitalist system and accused the police for its negligence and lack of responsibility. We might find his method of research a bit contradictory and immoral but I believe that it does not actually matter and that he has provided us with valuable information.

© 2024