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suggests that gangsterism as a "form of self-help which victimizes others" may appear in societies which lack strong "forces of law and order"; he characterizes European feudalism as "mainly gangsterism that had become society itself and acquired respectability through the notions of chivalry".
A wide variety of gangs, such as the Order of Assassins, the Damned Crew, Adam the Leper's gang, Penny Mobs, Indian Thugs, Chinese Triads, Snakehead, Japanese Yakuza, Irish mob, Pancho Villa's Villistas, Dead Rabbits, American Old West outlaw gangs, Bowery Boys, Chasers, the Italian mafia, Jewish mafia, and Russian Mafia crime families have existed for centuries.
The Russian, Chechen, Azerbaijani, Ukrainian, Georgian, Armenian, and other former Soviet organized crime groups or "Bratvas" have many members and associates affiliated with their various sorts of organized crime, but no statistics are available.
The Yakuza are among one of the largest criminal organizations in the world.
Most gangs operate informally with leadership falling to whomever takes control; others have distinct leadership and are highly structured, which resembles more or less a business or corporation.
The 2005 study neither War nor Peace: International Comparisons of Children and Youth in Organized Armed Violence studied ten cities worldwide and found that in eight of them, "street gangs had strong links to prison gangs".
According to criminal justice professor John Hagedorn, many of the biggest gangs from Chicago originated from prisons. Charles Illinois Youth Center originated the Conservative Vice Lords and Blackstone Rangers.
These factors are very influential in the luring process and largely contribute to the reasons why individuals join gangs.
These factors are particularly more attractive and influential on at-risk youth.