Reluctant Gangsters Revisited

Book chapter


Havard, T. and Whittaker, A. (2023). Reluctant Gangsters Revisited . in: The Palgrave Handbook of Youth Gangs in the UK. Palgrave Macmillan.
AuthorsHavard, T. and Whittaker, A.
Abstract

In the UK, there has been considerable controversy about the existence and nature of street gangs. In 2007, Pitts (2007, 2008) published the first of what has become a wave of UK gang studies (Densley, 2012, 2013; Deuchar 2009; Harding, 2014, Andell and Pitts, 2017, 2018; McLean, 2019; Whittaker et al, 2018, 2019, 2020) that have marked a growth in interest in gangs (Andell, 2019). Early debates focused upon whether gangs were a response to inner city poverty and structural disadvantage (Pitts, 2008, 2012, 2016) or a social construction based upon media portrayals of young people, particularly young black people, in negative ways (Hallsworth, 2013; Hallsworth and Young, 2008). Pitts’ study provided a clear baseline for future gang studies and he responded to criticisms of unguarded ‘gang talk’ by highlighting how academics who underplayed the harm identified by victims, families and youth workers were acting as ‘reluctant criminologists’, refusing to transform private troubles into public issues (Pitts, 2012).

The chapter presents the results of study (Whittaker et al, 2018, 2019) of gangs in a London borough that is a ten-year follow up to the original classic study (Pitts, 2007, 2008) undertaken in the same area. Many gang studies have focused upon the level of individual gang members rather than the whole gang, have been cross sectional, are time bounded and are rarely replicated. Consequently, capturing the process of how gangs evolve has been challenging.

The current study offers a rare opportunity to study gangs within a specific territory over two time periods, ten years apart. It contributes to the emerging literature on the nature and extent of gangs in the United Kingdom by investigating the extent to which there are similarities or differences in street gangs in the area studied by Pitts and explore how gangs appear to have changed in the past 10 years.

Keywordschild criminal exploitation, gangs, girls and young women
Year2023
Book titleThe Palgrave Handbook of Youth Gangs in the UK.
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
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Edition1
Publication process dates
Accepted20 Dec 2022
Deposited29 Nov 2022
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