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Download books The Social Order of the Underworld – dedelicate.com
Ally interesting glimpse into how the underworld organises itself It s really interesting to read about how human self organisation arises in incredibly inhospitable environments Some really interesting data points but the book illustrates the problem with relying on self interested sources in this case prison officials and COs to discern the workings of otherwise opaue institutions Especially on the crucial uestion of how prevalent gang activity is in certain systems for which the author only has the opinions of prison officials and they are uite interested in making the gang problem seem as large as possible to justify their budgetary needs You seldom get a book which is so admirably clear in its thesis explains why competing explanations are lacking in a conventionally academic book we would have had to dredge through chapters of the author engaging with nonsense in detail in this book this is dispensed with in a few paragraphs pointing out how deficient these theories are and then goes on to show systematically how his explanation is much convincing and action guiding Because of the visceral subject matter and stories th What an amazing book I was a bit dubious going in that I would really be able to appreciate this book s topic but was very happily surprisedThe first 10 pages or so are an incredible description of what the book is all about and why i This is not an ethnography It is hard to say what it is It is not really suitable for anybody who works in corrections because the information presented is common nowledge It is not really appropriate for those interested in corrections because it oversimplifies gangs in prison I was fine with the book until the end when the author started to offer suggestions for improvements to the corrections system such as a prison voucher system so inmates c Alternative titles for this book Anarchy Doesn t Exist or Why Hobbes and Lock Were Wrong This book is a lot of fun It mixes a bunch of different types of evidence court transcripts interviews administrative data to answer the uestion why was there a large rise in the prevalence of prison gangs in the US over the past 30 years Skarbek s answer is fundamentally because the convict code an informal set of rules previous in place was no longer tenable when the prison population became younger much larger and violent Gangs set up to enforce order primarily to facilitate the market for drugsSkarbek employs game theory of the informal type rather than the NashRubensteinHarsyani type to understand why prison gangs operate in the way they do for example why are gangs almost always divided along racial lines and why do gangs punishing others within their own gang for harming people from other gangsThe argument generally seemed to me to be pretty plausible The one thing I felt it was lacking was substantive econometric analysis Even a simple regression of the proportion of prisoners who are in gangs on the number of prisoners or average age of prisoners is missing The book seems to indicate that this is due to lack of available data Fair enough you can t blame Skarbek for that But while the other types of evidence appealed to are very useful and are deployed in a convincing manner there must necessarily be a lot of game theoretic story telling to join up prisoners testimonies with a model of the gang market Although of course metrics is rarely decisive it does allow us to look at these relationships atheoretically in reduced form If there is such a relationship then the game theory can explain why But without that metrics work it is much harder to judge whether the theory is right or just a nice storyOverall the book is highly readable very informative and probably largely accessible to non economists. Ct them and why they have a powerful influence over crime even beyond prison walls The ramifications of his findings extend far beyond the seemingly irrational and often tragic society of captives They also illuminate how social and political order can emerge in conditions where the traditional institutions of governance do not exist.
David Skarbek ☆ 8 summary
Tions to provide governance for impersonal exchange We also see that monopoly power is incredibly important to the reduction of violence Skarbek documents these aspects and of prison gangs during a period when the increase in prison gangs power coincided with a reduction in violence among prisoners The argument that under current conditions gangs make prisoners experiences better and safer than the relevant alternatives which do not include everyone acting peacefully of their own accord is provocative and well supportedBeyond just understanding prison gangs and the environmental factors that led to their emergence Skarbek does an excellent job of describing the process of how impersonal exchange emerges after norms governing personal exchange break down He accomplishes this better than many other authors who have attempted it including Leeson North and Greif A Sanctuary key uestion in this literature is where the shadow of state produced violence does not loom large can impersonal exchange emerge and if so how is it sustained Skarbek shows that impersonal exchange can arise without state enforcement of rules and that this is accomplished when the benefits of creating organizations to provide governance outweigh their costs Thing I disliked most about the book authors like Skarbek along with Leeson like to distinguish between governance and government when arguing that anarchy is not so bad What they fail to admit is the organizations that undergird impersonal exchange where there is no formal government are essentially just miniature state like entities that enforce the rules via violence just like a formal government would doThing I liked most about the book everything else the economic theory is presented so well and the stories of prison gangs are interspersed at the proper points to illustrate the economic concepts I recommend this to everyone The Social Order of the Underworld How Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System 2014 by David Skarbek is a fascinating look into when how and why prison gangs have formed in the US and how they operate The book concentrates on the Californian Prison SystemPrior to the 1950s the Californian Prison system housed a fairly small number of inmates and Skarbek says there were no gangs instead prison inmates had a code that they obeyed that was fairly simple but allowed inmates to remain fairly safe As the population of inmates grew rapidly prison became dangerous as new inmates didn tnow the code and inmates had little in common with each other In order to provide protection gangs arose and then began to provide services for inmates including drugs and payment systems and a method of enforcing agreements The gangs formed along ethnic lines and geographic lines Skarbek argues not because of racial attitudes but simply because race is something that allows easy identification These gangs create their own rules and even write their own constitutions They recruit people who they believe will serve the organisation wellThe gangs allow people to do deals by ensuring that people are trustworthy because they will enforce contracts For instance if a white inmate gets drugs from a latino inmate and then refuses to pay the white gangs will actually force the inmate to pay or physically harm him to Forever Faithful (Forever Faithful, keep order Skarbek points out that prison gangs actually reduce riots and someinds of violence as the gangs want things to be orderly so that they can make money from their illicit activities Prison lockdowns due to riots hurt gang profits The many downsides of gangs their own inds of violence and the corruption they lead to are not ignored The remarkable pressure that they manage to bring to bear on crime outside prisons is explained convincingly The book provides a re. Nal officers Yet as David Skarbek argues gangs form to create order among outlaws producing alternative governance institutions to facilitate illegal activity He uses economics to explore the secret world of the convict culture inmate hierarchy and prison gang politics and to explain why prison gangs form how formal institutions affe.
An investigation into the nature and purpose of prison gangs through the lens of an economist I don t always agree with the technical tools and economic explanations used but they do lead to conclusions that are interesting and appear to be reasonable Namely that prison gangs arose to fill a security and power vacuum which the prisons and prison staff wereare unable or unwilling to provide themselves Due in part to overcrowding corruption changes in sentencing practices and a variety of other factors The gangs also serve to stabilize and coordinate the in prison economy of drugs weapons information etc at a cost The gangs maintain order and their authority through a monopoly on violenceFairly well put together and easy to read Though certainly not written from a radical prison abolitionist stance the author does seem to arrive at positions I m taking off a star for Skarbek s wooden writing style Other than that this is an impressively well researched highly coherent analysis of a subculture that by its very nature has a strong incentive to hide its existence from anthropological inuiry I daresay it has revolutionized the way I conceptualize organized crime in prison rather than continuing to see it as dysfunctional aberration of a healthy market economy helmed by psychotic ultraviolence addicts I m inclined to favor Skarbek s theory that it is a natural step in social evolution when the typical consumer demands of a severely confined population collide with an lack of legitimate governance to protect the welfare of market actors An interesting take on racism on page 101 inmates who don t now each other can t identify as easily whether someone is a Marxist or a Christian or as uickly as determining whether the inmate is white or blackan inmate cannot change his race so racial segregation limitstaking advantage of groups or falsely claiming membership in a group Gangs do not form to promote racism race facilitates gang governance The problem described here seems to be in a heavily transient population I need to now whether I can trust you even if we aren t personally acuainted so you need to display something you can t fake to verify your membership in a group whom I respect if you forge an identity signifier you can take advantage of that identity group s social capital and your negative actions will degrade its reputation so there s a strong motivation to choose symbols that resist counterfeiting Skin color is inherent in a human body and largely unalterable so it is something I can reliably use to assess your identity and allegiance In all the book is an intriguing look at a brutal clandestine world Skarbek breathes dignity and rationality into the residents of an extremely dehumanizing system without apologizing for their atrocities and that s an admirable literary tightrope to walk Skarbek provides an engaging overview of the US mostly California prison system and provides a compelling way of understanding the emergence of prison gangs He uses the analytical tools of economics drawing on signaling theory constitutional political economy and industrial organization to provide a narrative in which prison gangs emerge to provide protection when norms based on decentralized enforcement no longer provided adeuate means of governing social interactions within the prison system This book is a great example using the economic way of thinking ie rational choice theory to understand something that has been seen as falling outside the realm of the study of rational actors We learn that we should not see prisoners as non rational actors who only have a preference for racism and violence Skarbek shows that profit can provide the incentive necessary to curtail violent behavior and set up organiza. When most people think of prison gangs they think of chaotic bands of violent racist thugs Few people think of gangs as sophisticated organizations often with elaborate written constitutions that regulate the prison black market adjudicate conflicts and strategically balance the competing demands of inmates gang members and correctio.
I am Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Political Theory Project at Brown University My research examines how extralegal governance institutions form operate and evolve and in particular how people define and enforce property rights and engage in trade in the absence of strong effective governments My first book The Social Order of the Underworld applies th