Dangers and problems of doing ˋgangˊ research in the UK

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Researchers and commentators have raised moral, political and scientific objections to conducting research that is explicitly ‘gang’ research. We begin by discussing the dangers of carrying out gang research; in particular, we focus on the risk of stereotyping communities, ethnic groups, and young people more generally. We sympathise with the concerns raised, but proceed with carrying out research that is explicitly ‘gang’ research in our ethnographic study, ‘Youth Gangs in an English City’ (YOGEC), funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). We do so for a number of reasons that we discuss in this chapter, but in particular to remedy the predominant focus within research, police, and journalistic accounts on ethnic minority youth and their gang involvement. Our second aim is to discuss the strategies we employ in our research design that explicitly address the concerns with which we contend. In other words, we designed our research with the intention that it does not stigmatise individuals and communities, that it paints a nuanced picture of the individuals and communities in which we conduct our research, and that it be attuned to complex subjectivities. At the time of writing, we have just completed our data collection, and therefore are in a position to reflect upon the experience of implementing the strategies we employ.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStreet Gangs, Migration and Ethnicity
EditorsFrank van Gemert, Dana Peterson, Inger-Lise Lien
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781843925453
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


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