Gang member: Who says? Definitional and structural issues

Hannah Smithson, Leanne Monchuk, Rachel Armitage

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Owing to a number of high-profile shootings in the UK over the past decade, there has been a significant amount of media and political interest in youth gangs. This chapter reports on a study conducted in 2009 in a large city in the North of England. It discusses the structure and formation of gangs in this city from the view of the young people identified as gang members and those responsible for this identification, i.e., police officers. Findings demonstrated that few of the young people viewed themselves as belonging to a gang; indeed, many were scathing of such an attribution, contesting its applicability. A more accurate description of these young people is of a rather loose and fluid, interlinked but informal social network of friends and associates. There was evidence that the authorities' labeling of some young people as gang members and adoption and use of gang names attributed coherence and identity to what was often only fluid and transitional youth group formations. This may have created the very circumstances it sought to challenge.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationYouth Gangs in International Perspective
Subtitle of host publicationResults from the Eurogang Program of Research
EditorsFinn-Aage Esbensen, Cheryl L. Maxson
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherSpringer Open
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781461416593
ISBN (Print)9781489991805
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2011


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