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NCJ Number: 209716 Find in a Library
Title: Maybe We Shouldn't Study "Gangs": Does Reification Obscure Youth Violence?
Journal: Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice  Volume:21  Issue:2  Dated:May 2005  Pages:170-190
Author(s): Mercer L. Sullivan
Date Published: May 2005
Page Count: 21
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article argues that the study of gangs is much boarder and more intrinsically problematic than gangs as the object of study and that the object of study needing to be focused upon is youth violence.
Abstract: Gangs are perennial phenomena of modern life and hold a fascination for journalists and social scientists. As a result, gangs are firmly ensconced in the vocabularies of ordinary life and academic discourse. Everyone knows what gangs are. However, this attempts to raise the possibility that this focus on gangs as objects of study is in some ways flawed. The label, gangs, is too vague and the focus on gangs distracts from an object of study that is broader and more intrinsically problematic--youth violence. This article takes a closer look at the methods and findings associated with research on gangs at the separate levels of society and individual. It addresses some definitional issues at the heart of operational measures at these different levels of analysis and proposes an analytic typology of forms of association and applies that typology to an analysis of gang membership and youth violence in New York City during the latter 1990's. This was a time when New York experienced an emergence of a new generation of gangs, along with a significant decrease in serious youth violence. It is recommended that there be a move forward from gang studies as a bounded field of inquiry toward a broader concern with youth violence and the diverse forms of youthful collective behavior. References
Main Term(s): Gangs
Index Term(s): Gang violence; Group behavior; Group dynamics; Juvenile/Youth Gangs; Research uses in policymaking; Violence prediction
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