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Gang glocalization: How the global mediascape creates and shapes local gang realities

Van Hellemont, Elke, Densley, James A (2019) Gang glocalization: How the global mediascape creates and shapes local gang realities. Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal, 15 (1). pp. 169-189. ISSN 1741-6590. (doi:10.1177/1741659018760107)

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This article introduces the concept of ‘gang glocalization’ to capture the processes by which global media myths and conventions create and shape local gang realities. The different stages of gang glocalization, and the motives to engage in this process, are examined by comparison of two empirical cases – Congolese gangs in Brussels and Afro-Caribbean gangs in London. This multi-sited ethnography finds that youth use fiction and imagination in order to create individual and collective gang identities. Police and political action against gangs is then informed by the same fiction and imagination, resulting in new gang realities based not on what is real. We find that mythmaking is an essential aspect of gangs – without the myth there is no gang – and that imagination is at the core of some of its most harmful activities, namely spectacular symbolic violence. This is an update on Thrasher’s (1927) old themes. The driving forces behind gang glocalization are emotions and desires tied to lived experiences of social and cultural exclusion. Implications for research and practice follow.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/1741659018760107
Uncontrolled keywords: Ethnography, gangs, globalization, imagination, race
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Elke Van Hellemont
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2018 08:32 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2020 04:10 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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