What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

New Insights Into Gang Violence Recalibrate Drug War Strategy

March 22, 2009, 11:31 AM
220107mexicans4

For decades, the American government has battled gang violence. Now, with an intensifying drug war along the Mexican-U.S. border, academics and think tanks are studying these deeply-rooted criminal entities and reshaping policy in the process. 

A landmark street gang study arrived in 2000 from economist Steven D. Levitt and sociologist Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh. Their work from the University of Chicago, entitled “An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang’s Finances,” used an innovative data set to deconstruct the economics of Chicago drug gangs. Both academics wrote best-selling books based on their findings and Venkatesh spent considerable time inside a Chicago street gang for his 2008 book, “Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets.” The result was a sea change in how the country is addressing street gangs.

Even fake academics are studying the issue. In the groundbreaking HBO series the Wire, a local academic uses a government grant to study street and drug culture at a Baltimore-area middle school.

The first major involvement from government came in 2004 with a grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety. They contributed $200,000 for a two-year study of area gang activity by the Lowell Police Department and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

But this research isn’t just coming from academia. Washington think tanks have also become involved, particularly the Justice Policy Institute’s findings regarding the failed policies addressing gangs and how they cost American taxpayers. In 2007, even the FBI started studying gang culture, compiling 20 years worth of work to study the circumstances and mentality of gang members.

But the true watershed moment in gang study came last month, when the University of Houston Center for Drug and Social Policy Research announced it had been awarded a $2.4 million grant by the National Institutes of Health to study Mexican-American adolescent gang members. Could a complete shift in the drug war be far behind?
 

New Insights Into Gang Viol...

Newsletter: Share: