How gang narratives stifle gang research

Robert McLean

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This chapter will seek to explore those reasons why Scottish gang literature has essentially failed to analyse whether, or not, gangs in contemporary Scotland are in fact organising as a means for gang business. Yet in order to understand why Scottish gang literature has failed to engage in revisiting the British gang, despite our Anglo-Welsh counterparts having been doing so for several decades now, we must first briefly set the background by outlining the factors which brought about the demand for initially revisiting the British gang. Doing so will allow us to draw attention to how Scottish gang literature ultimately failed to engage in this new wave of research. This failure was not brought about by a lack of effort, nor because empirical research was not being carried out, but rather because a multitude of factors combined to result in an overly fixative gaze being applied to what McLean (2017) terms Young Street Gangs (YSGs) . While this gaze may have produced a wealth of insight into YSG formation, workings, behaviour, etc., it nonetheless also proved to be equally detrimental to the identification, or study of, other gang typologies in the Scottish context. Consequently, this has rendered comparative analysis with those gangs described in the Anglo-Welsh, European, and even US context difficult if not near impossible. This lead to the belief that gangs in Scotland are somehow inherently different from those elsewhere: the emphasise on differences being inherent is important as it often results in the belief that gangs in Scotland are invariably incompatible with those out with, and thus always will be. Having discussed these points allows us to proceed onto on the gist of the discussion and draw out those specific factors which have effectively combined to contribute to the application of an overly fixative gaze being applied to YSGs in Scotland. A conclusion will then follow discussing how gang research has in effect been reproducing itself in its own image.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGang Violence
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives, Influences and Gender Differences
EditorsCliff Akiyama
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


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