Constructing Gangs: The Social Definition Of Youth Activities

Scott Decker, Kimberly Kempf-Leonard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Despite previous research, there remains no consensus on definitions of who is a gang member, what is a gang, and what is gang activity. This paper examines these issues based on results of a survey administered to two groups involved in responding to gangs—members of a gang task force and officers of an urban police department—and a group of juvenile detainees. Considerable differences are observed among the three groups in their appraisal of the extent and impact of gang activity, number of gangs and gang members, and gang-relatedness of five vignettes. The implications for formulating a policy response to gangs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-291
Number of pages21
JournalCriminal Justice Policy Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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