Gang Research at ASU
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Organization & Structure

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Gangs, migration, and crime: The changing landscape in Europe and the United States
The history of gangs is intertwined with migration. In America, a number of classic studies have reported on the possible causal link between immigration, socio-economic position, social disorganization, and gang formation. More recently in Europe, the impact of migration on gangs reflects a complex mix of factors that also includes cultural and media influences. In addition, there are other contextual factors such as immigration and population movement that have received less attention, yet condition the relationship between structural factors and the formation of gangs. Processes such as immigration, migration, and resettlement have had an important impact on the transmission of gangs on an international, national, and local scale, often enhanced by the impact of immigration. This article examines the relationship between immigration, culture, and gangs and contrasts European and US research.
Young Women and Gang Violence: Gender, Street Offending, and Violent Victimization in Gangs
Drawing on multiple data sources in St. Louis, this article examines how gendered situational dynamics shape gang violence, including participation in violent offending and experiences of violent victimization. Combining an analysis of in-depth interviews with young women in St. Louis gangs with an examination of homicide reports from the same city, we find that young women, even regular offenders, highlight the significance of gender in shaping and limiting their involvement in serious violence. They use gender both to accomplish their criminal activities and to temper their involvement in gang crime. Consequently their risk for serious physical victimization in gangs is considerably less than young men's. St. Louis homicide data collaborate these qualitative findings. Not only are young women much less likely to be the victims of gang homicide, but the vast majority of female gang homicide victims were not the intended targets of the attack. In contrast, homicide reports suggest that the majority of male gang homicide victims were the intended targets. We suggest that gendered group processes and stratification within gangs are key factors explaining both violent offending and victimization risk in gangs.
From the street to the prison, From the prison to the street: Understanding and responding to prison gangs
This article examines a range of issues associated with gangs in incarcerated settings. We begin by examining the similarities and differences between street and prison gangs, and differentiating them from other types of criminal groups. Next, we focus on the emergence and growth of gangs in prison, including patterns and theoretical explanations. Importantly, we draw theoretical linkages between differing perspectives on gang emergence and gang violence. We also present administrative and official responses to gangs in prison. Finally, we discuss the movement from prison to the street, examining the difficulties that former prisoners face when re-entering communities.
Understanding the Black Box of Gang Organization: Implications for Involvement in Violent Crime, Drug Sales and Violent Victimization
This article examines the influence of gang organization on several behavioral measures. Using interview data from juvenile detention facilities in three Arizona sites, this article examines the relationship between gang organizational structure and involvement in violent crime, drug sales, victimization, and arrest. The gang literature suggests that gangs are not very well organized. However, the findings from the current research suggest that even low levels of gang organization are important for their influence on behavior. Indeed, even incremental increases in gang organization are related to increased involvement in offending and victimization.
Addressing Key Features of Gang Membership: Measuring the Involvement of Young Members
In recent years, the growth in knowledge of the characteristics and activities of gang members has been impressive. Little is known, however, about the key features of younger gang members, those in middle school. Ninety-six middle school students who self-reported current or former gang membership in a school-based survey form the sample for this analysis. This study examined four dimensions of gang membership: joining the gang, processes involved in gang life, organizational characteristics of the gang, and family characteristics. Gang membership appears to be transient, with a weak hold on members during periods of membership. This is especially true when the results of this study are compared to studies that used older members.
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