Networks, malandros and social control: exploring the connections between inequality and violence in Venezuela

Vandenbogaerde, Ellen (2016) Networks, malandros and social control: exploring the connections between inequality and violence in Venezuela. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis looks at the connections between inequality and violence in Venezuela by exploring how people’s relationships might mediate or mitigate these connections. It is often assumed that people’s relationships can provide motivations for engaging in violence, or that they provide informal social controls that can keep them from violence. Venezuela is an interesting case study because traditional indicators suggest violence might not be related to inequality in this context, justifying a focus on lower-level mechanisms that might be responsible for the often found correlations in different contexts. This thesis shows that historical inequalities provide the distal conditions for the institutionalisation of el malandreo, a Venezuelan gangster identity. Nevertheless, violence between malandros –people that identify with el malandreo– itself is the proximate cause of the deadly violence that holds Venezuela in a venomous grip.
The research is based on data collected during a year’s fieldwork in the barrios, poorer areas of Venezuela’s cities where the majority of violence occurs, of two different cities. I collected both qualitative observation and unstructured interview data, as well as more quantifiable personal network data that were analysed with E-net and SPSS. A large part of the thesis is also based on ethnographic observations as well as interviews with malandros.
The findings show that many barrio residents feel disadvantaged and may be motivated to use violence, nevertheless, there is little evidence that there is a lack of informal social control in these areas. Instead, the absence of formal authorities and dense interaction networks open the barrio up to much more ambiguous forms of informal social control. Such observations emphasise that el malandreo can be seen to provide existential meaning as well as informal social control, through violence. Overall, the thesis argues for a relational understanding of the connections between inequality and violence and for seeing violence itself as a form of social control particularly in areas where authority is ambiguous and social networks are dense.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0661 Social control
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2016 12:00
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2016 12:00

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