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NCJ Number: 163361 Find in a Library
Title: Gang Initiation Rite as a Motif in Contemporary Crime Discourse
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:13  Issue:3  Dated:(September 1996)  Pages:383-404
Author(s): J Best; M M Hutchinson
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 22
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: References to gang initiation rites are common in contemporary discourse about crime, and the motif of gang initiation resembles claims about other deviant conspiracies.
Abstract: Viewing the gang initiation rite as a motif in contemporary crime discourse illustrates how existing cultural resources serve the construction of social problems. Claims that invoke this motif depict joining a delinquent gang as a formal process marked by initiation rituals in which prospective gang members usually commit some deviant act as a condition of membership. Gang initiation rites in contemporary legends, social scientific research, and newspaper stories are compared. The significance of deviant conspiracies in the construction of social problems is discussed. General themes in the folkloric construction of gang initiation rites are identified, differences in the depiction of gang initiation rites by social scientists and contemporary legends are examined, and diverse contexts in which newspapers mention gang initiation rites are noted. The authors point out that the motif of gang initiation rites has a complex history and that claimsmaking about the motif of gang initiation rites draws on familiar cultural resources in ways that shape the construction of social problems and social policies. 92 references and 11 footnotes
Main Term(s): Gangs
Index Term(s): Cultural influences; Deviance; Media coverage; Social conditions
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