There is a motorcycle-rally currently taking place near my house and I couldn’t help from trying to measure things up. Most Harley Riders don’t belong to motorcycle gangs. In fact, most enthusiasts claim that “ninety-nine percent are law abiding citizens” (I think that statement comes from the American Motorcycle Association). Nevertheless, some clubs have the reputation of being “one-percenters.” Such clubs include the Outlaws MC, Pagans, and the Hell’s Angels. It seems to me that these clubs possess a special status within the motorcycle community. But why? One percenter clubs are considered by law enforcement agencies to be organized crime syndicates and their members have been indicted for a number of crimes.
Simply put, I believe the reputation given to these groups and their members stems from the efficacy to impose their will. The most successful groups have built reputations based on brawls, confrontations, and even murder. Status becomes a matter of life and death. Within the romantics of violent efficacy is the concept of brotherhood and a mythic belief in the group’s dominance. I wonder how the status of the one-percenter matches up in the upscale suburbs? I am guessing there is a dose of stigma neutralized by the fear of efficacy.