Gang-related gun violence: Socialization, identity, and self

Paul B. Stretesky*, Mark R. Pogrebin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


Few studies have examined how violent norms are transmitted in street gangs. The purpose of this research is to add to the gang-related literature by examining socialization as the mechanism between street gang membership and violence. To explore this issue, we draw upon in-depth interviews with twenty-two inmates convicted of gang-related gun violence. We find that the gangs are important agents of socialization that help shape a gang member's sense of self and identity. In addition, inmates reported to us that whereas guns offered them protection, they were also important tools of impression management that helped to project and protect a tough reputation. Our findings provide greater insight into the way gang socialization leads to gun-related violence and has implications for policies aimed at reducing that violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-114
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Contemporary Ethnography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007


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