chapter  31
9 Pages

Critical perspectives on urban street gangs

WithSimon Hallsworth

Given that criminology is predominantly – though by no means exclusively – a utilitarian discipline orientated since its inception towards the bio-political task of helping the state identify its criminal outside, most work on urban street gangs conducted within this administrative tradition can be defined by relation to the mission. Critical perspectives on urban street gangs are beholden to a different political standpoint, radical, sometimes feminist and anarchist traditions. Methodologically, critical criminologists interested in urban street gangs eschew the kind of quantitative research methods favored by more administrative traditions in favor of a more qualitatively and ethnographically engaged approach with their subject matter. Feminist inspired research into young women's involvement in urban street gangs exemplifies this strand of critical enquiry. Despite producing what is arguably the most theatrically rich and ethnographically thick and detailed examination of urban street gangs, critical criminology, has made few inroads in terms of informing wider gang policy and practice.