Living in the Shadow of Death: Gangs, Violence, and Social Order in Urban Nicaragua, 1996–2002

  • Dennis Rodgers
Part of the Studies of the Americas book series (STAM)


The past two decades have seen crime increasingly recognized as a critical social concern. Crime rates have risen globally by an average of 50 percent over the past 25 years, and the phenomenon is widely considered to contribute significantly to human suffering all over the world (Ayres 1998). This is particularly true in Latin America, where contemporary violence has reached unprecedented levels due to rising crime and delinquency (Londoño et al. 2000). This trend has been widely linked to a perceived shift in the political economy of violence in post-Cold War Latin America, with the most visible expressions of brutality no longer stemming from ideological conflicts over the nature of politics, as in the past, but from more “prosaic” forms of everyday violence (Caldeira 1996: 199). Violence in Latin America has arguably “democratized,” ceasing to be “the resource of only the traditionally powerful or of the grim uniformed guardians of the nation and increasingly appear[ing] as an option for a multitude of actors in pursuit of all kinds of goals” (Kruijt and Koonings 1999: 11). These new dynamics are seen to be linked to a regional “crisis of governance,” whereby economic liberalization, weak democratization, and intensifying globalization have undermined states and their ability to command a monopoly over t he use of violence. The emergence of “disorderly” forms of criminal violence epitomizes this declining political authority, and signals a rising social chaos (de Rivero 2001).


Gang Member Criminal Violence Youth Gang Drug Economy Social Structuration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Gareth A. Jones and Dennis Rodgers 2009

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  • Dennis Rodgers

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