This book takes students on a guided tour of the gang phenomenon through history, as well as current representations of gangs in literature and media. It includes: - A detailed global overview of gang culture, covering, amongst others, Glasgow, Chicago, Hong Kong, and Shanghai - A chapter on researching gangs which covers quantitative and qualitative methods - Extra chapter features such as key terms, chapter overviews, study questions and further reading suggestions. Fraser brings together gang-literature and critical perspectives in a refreshingly new way, exploring ‘gangs’ as a social group with a long and fascinating history.

Conceptualising Gangs

Conceptualising Gangs


Chapter 4 provides:

  • A history of sociological concepts of gangs, with particular focus on key ideas developed in the postwar period.
  • A detailed discussion of five key concepts in the study of gangs, drawing on classical studies of gangs in the US and UK.
  • A dialogue between classical concepts of gangs and crime and contemporary concerns.
  • An overview of emergent sociological analysis of youth, gangs and street culture in a global and comparative context.

Key Terms

  • Anomie
  • Birmingham School
  • Class
  • Deviance
  • Drift
  • Multiple marginality
  • Reaction-formation
  • Rebellion
  • Resistance through ritual
  • Social disorganisation
  • Strain
  • Street capital
  • Street culture
  • Subculture
  • Urban marginality
  • Zone of transition


In a famous scene from the musical West Side Story (1961) – which retells the story of Shakespeare’s ...

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