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Organisation of London's Street Gangs

NCJ Number
Global Crime Volume: 13 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2012 Pages: 42-64
J. A. Densley
Date Published
February 2012
23 pages
This article examines the nature and extent of gang organization.
This article examines a grossly neglected area of the street gang literature: the nature and extent of gang organization. Based upon fieldwork with gangs in London, UK, this article illustrates how recreation, crime, and enterprise are not specific gang 'types', but rather represent sequential stages in the evolutionary cycle of gangs. This article demonstrates not only how gangs typically begin life as neighborhood-based peer groups, but also how, in response to external threats and financial commitments, gangs grow to incorporate street-level drug distribution businesses that very much resemble the multi-level marketing structure of direct-selling companies. Gang organization, in turn, becomes a function of gang business. Gang organization is conceptualized here on three levels: internal, external, and symbolic. This article examines, respectively, the presence of subgroups, hierarchy and leadership, incentives, rules, responsibilities, and punishments within gangs; how gangs interact with the local and larger community; and how gangs associate with symbolic elements of popular culture in order to convey reputation and achieve intimidation. (Published Abstract)