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NCJ Number: NCJ 241049     Find in a Library
Title: "Gang" as Empty Signifier in Contemporary Canadian Newspapers
Author(s): Chris Richardson ; Liam Kennedy
  Journal: Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice  Volume:54  Issue:4  Dated:October 2012  Pages:443 to 479
Date Published: 10/2012
Page Count: 37
  Annotation: This study examined the use and meaning of the word “gang” in Canadian newspapers.
Abstract: The word gang appears frequently in newspapers. The meaning of this term, however, varies greatly depending on context. This study examines its different significations in the top-selling English-language newspapers in Canada. Taking almost 3,900 occurrences of the term and its variants (gangs, ganging, and ganged) in the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the Vancouver Sun, and Montreal's Gazette, the authors analyze how journalists deploy the concept of gangs to describe diverse subjects from vandalism by teenagers to extortion by organized crime syndicates to terrorist plots by religious extremists as well as simply groups of friends or acquaintances with no criminal connections. Using Ernesto Laclau's concept of the empty signifier as the main theoretical framework, the authors argue that “gang” has been emptied of its meaning and, while its current uses are not necessarily indicative of conspiratorial or ideological strategies, this ambiguity risks being appropriated within hegemonic political discourses if not questioned and reassessed by journalists and readers. The authors conclude by suggesting ways to combat this problem of ambiguity and highlight the political implications that future researchers may explore in relation to mediated representations of crime. (Published Abstract)
Main Term(s): Gangs
Index Term(s): Media coverage ; Gang Prevention ; Gang violence ; Canada
Publisher URL: 
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Country: Canada
Language: English
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