Compelling And Captivating Accounts In Hells Angels Sociology Essay

Hell's Angel is e book that gives you the brutal fact about the life span after war in America. It offers personal insights to how the sub ethnic life in the United States was influenced by the consequences of conflict. The book isn't designed for the politically very sensitive or viewers who expect a romantic perspective of the post-war sub-cultural life in America.

It is a powerful and fascinating personal account of the Sony Barger's life and the scrapes that he managed to get into. Given birth to in California in the year 1938, Barger put in his youthful years growing up in Oakland. This was between the early on 1940s and 1950s. His mother deserted him when he was hardly four months old. Barger lived with an alcoholic dad and an elder sister. He relay s that he was suspended from institution on more than one occasion for bodily attacking professors and preventing with other students.

However looking again at those times now, Barger areas that he doesn't look after himself as a bully or aberrant person. Despite of dropping interest in college he continued to spend a major part of his time reading and working at a grocery store. He stresses that he didn't holiday resort to robbery or stealing. When he enlisted in the military in 1955, he was kicked out fourteen years later after it was found that he was underage (sixteen) and possessed posted a forged qualification.

His go back from the army led him to a few tedious careers but he didn't continue with them for long. He was on the lookout for an objective in his life, a reason why he been around and he was to discover with time that his goal in life would later grow to be a member of your motorcycle team.

While still in high school Barger arranged his first golf club called "Earth Angels" in 1954. Two years later, in 1956, he became the founding member of his first bicycle club namely Oakland Panthers. He left the membership as fast as he had were able to make it because he felt a lacking of unity. In his own words said that he give up the golf club very early even though he was one of the starting participants. Although they use to get together a great deal and he use to think its great, but there more selfishness than brotherhood.

He talked for some fellow bikers about starting another team, and suggested they name it "Hell's Angels" after having a patch that certain of the fellows, Boots Don Reeves wore. The patch got a skull onto it putting on an aviator cap and a set of wings. They travelled combined with the idea and got more areas of the same design manufactured in Apr 1957(Lavigne, 2004).

What is deviance?

"Deviance in a sociological framework describes actions or behaviors that violate ethnic norms including formally-enacted rules (e. g. , criminal offense) as well as informal violations of interpersonal norms (e. g. , rejecting folkways and mores). It's the purview of sociologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and criminologists to review how these norms are created, the way they change as time passes and how they may be enforced.

Stephen Pfohl has defined nine ways of conceiving deviant action. "

It is noticeable from the reserve that Sonny Barger was totally employed in deviant behavior. However he failed to perceive his tendencies as deviant or unnatural. He was convinced that he was doing "normal" or socially satisfactory things such as reading and working which he presumed would balance his deviant habit.

The Classical Perspective

The Classical perspective as defined by Pfohl was evolved from three major elements

Rational choice


Incapacitation and Just Desert

The component of personal choice extensively influences deviant tendencies. People engage in deviant behavior based on what their idea of rationality or rational choice is. Sonny Barger didn't understand that it was irrational to forge his birth certificate to get enlisted in the army. Why? Because people have a tendency to choose any kind of behavior whether it is conforming or deviant, in Barger's case the latter, predicated on their personal logical calculation. Central to the rational computation is a cost and benefit evaluation. Barger found more pleasure in deviance because it maximized his personal pleasure. Though the classical theory areas that "choice can be managed through the understanding and knowledge of the pain or punishment that will follow an action judged to be in the violation of social good" however Barger's circumstance was different. A complete understanding of the consequences of his act couldn't make him stop what he was doing (Sampson, 1967).

General Deterrence is defined as follows

"People will take part in legal and deviant activities if indeed they do not fear apprehension and abuse. "

Sony Barger's circumstance if summarized in a series can be explained as that of general deterrence. Because the beginning of his proposal in deviant action, he was alert to what the consequence would be but fear of consequence and apprehension didn't exist in his mind.

The Community Disorganization Theory

This theory is thought to be one of the main theories submit by Chicago College. The theory straight liked high offense rates to ecological characteristics of the neighborhood. Young people from disadvantaged neighborhoods were thought to be participants of an subculture where being delinquent were an approved tendencies. The youth obtained criminality through a process of social connections in cultural and cultural configurations.

The public theory stands on the basic principle that the location of a person is similarly important if not more with this, gender and competition of any person in deciding whether they would require themselves in against the law or criminal activities (Anne, 2004).

Taking Sonny Barger and his book into account it is apparent from his family life and area description that he had a strong impact of the both on his personality and life which led him to activate in legal activities later on in his life. Deserted by his mom at the age of four months, and compelled to live a life with an alcoholic daddy Barger found solace in his deviant behavior. Assaulting educators, forging delivery certificates and attacking fellow students at college was all part of what he regarded as normal.

Barger has turned down the conception that Hell's Angels was a criminal group despite of admitting that its people have had a criminal history, the majority of us were card-carrying felons. He has admitted the usage of drugs when he said that acid was something we all had in common, selling illegal medication sold heroin from the overdue sixties in to the early seventies directly to junkies, forging driver's licenses was also producing up fake driver's licenses.

The social disorganization theory goes on to state that some ethnicities even have a tendency to encourage criminal activity since it is "not considered criminal or wrong". Research has discovered that delinquent action is highest in those areas that suffer from economic problems. Economic instability and weakness is one of the major motorists of delinquent tendencies.

Post World Battle 2 and in the 1940s and 1950s, Oakland's shipbuilding industry vanished and a drop in automobile industry was also seen. Careers became scarce in this example. The city was one of the six metropolitan areas in the region that experienced one of the greatest strike movements ever sold. All this led to the monetary instability and downfall of metropolis and its residents. Financial instability and insecurity may also have brought on Sony Barger's patterns of deviance and nonconformance. The lack of sense of cover and security that he faced as a kid from his home, led him to constitute a club which had people who thought in helping the fellow members and being united in even the toughest times. The story of Hell's Angels Motorcycle club represents the best exemplory case of brotherhood where men can even fight to loss of life for the other person without respect what the cause is. They stood up for themselves and they imagine to be there regardless of what happens.

The Functionalist Perspective

The functionalist point of view was designed by Harvard sociologist Talcott Parsons during the middle of 20th century. However it has its origins in Emile Durkheim's work. The definition of functionalism is as follows

Functionalism has a thought that everyone in the modern culture has some kind of purpose, which is the cause of existence.

This approach believes that people who are indulging in deviant tendencies and nonconformance to societal norms and polices serve a purpose as important as those who conform to the norms. A widely quoted example to clarify this phenomenon is the fact that criminal offenses, that is thought to be a nuisance by people all over the world, is thought to serve a purpose by functionalists. It generates the justification or need of employment of lawmakers, police force, criminal investigators and more. It had been concluded by Durkheim that offense and deviance provide three major functions for the contemporary society

Deviant patterns reaffirms cultural norms. It helps clarify them

It promotes the concept of social unity

It questions or issues the position quo

If Sony Barger's life and happenings are viewed from the functionalist point of view, it rationalizes his doings. Despite of his denials that Hell's Angels is a criminal group or that he previously involved into any social and moral wrongdoings, his life's bank account in the reserve will help viewers realize the value of conformance to norms. Deviance can prove to be beneficial for the society sometimes. Like regarding Sony Barger who was simply convicted of conspiracy to violate federal government legislations to commit murder and served a 4 year sentence in prison, people reading the booklet will realize how non-conformance will cause a poor repercussion.


In summary Sony Barger's reserve "Hell's Angel, The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Street bike Membership" are a practical application of some of the major theories that contain been analyzed by Stephen Pfohl in "Images of Deviance and control". Stephen Pfohl's work helps one gain a deeper insight on Sony Barger's sociological perceptions and ideology. It can help you understand the reason why or factors that are behind the habit that was used by Barger throughout his life.

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