Thoughts on: Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh

This is the story of a sociology student who gets a unique opportunity to study, hang out with, and even act as a stand in for, a gang leader. It’s a great peak into the underground economy and organization of the public housing projects in Chicagos most crime ridden districts.

πŸ“ β€œWas is possible, I wondered, to be in the projects for any length of time and remaining neutral; an outsider an objective observer?”

πŸ“ Independent prostitutes got beaten up 4 times while affiliates (w. pimps) only got beaten once per year on average.

πŸ“ Prostitute Price List:

πŸ’΅ Blowjob: 10-15$

πŸ’΅ Intercourse: 25$

πŸ’΅ Anal: 50$

😒

πŸ“ Gangs told their foot soldiers and people in the public housing who to vote for in elections.

πŸ“ The way the people hustling in the projects had to pay different people for protection (pimps, building supervisors and the gangs) reminded me of a quote from The Story of Civilization, talking about the birth of the state tax: β€œIt was better to pay bribe to one magnificent robber than to bribe them all.”

It’s a good book, but I wished for less personal drama and more scientific analysis.

⭐️ TAKEAWAY: The people of the Robert Taylor public housing projects will most likely have even fewer options to gang life in the future, as jobs for unskilled laborers is eliminated by automation and AI. My next read (Give People Money) is about Universal Basic Income which might turn out to be a key ingredient to end this type of poverty.

3/5

Photo credit: @literaryjargon

What’s your next read? πŸ€”

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