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Books  >>  Sociology

S. Hallsworth

The Gang and Beyond

S. Hallsworth The Gang And Beyond Interpreting Violent Street Worlds 2013
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Biographical note:

Simon Hallsworth is Professor of Sociology and Head of the School of Applied Social Sciences, University Campus Suffolk, UK. He has written extensively on punishment in modern society, the local politics of crime and community safety and more recently violent street worlds. His research interests include street violence, weapon use, and the development of the security state. His previous books include Street Robbery (2005) and The New Punitiveness: Issues Themes and Perspectives (2005).

Main description:

The gang today is seen as Britain's public enemy number one. This book tackles this gangland thesis head-on and refutes it, questioning how we think about and interpret violent street worlds and how and why we need to think about them in very different ways, pushing the boundaries of critical enquiry and providing a range of new ways of looking at disturbing realities.

Through the novel use of authoethnography, the book contests the widely held thesis that urban gangs today represent a serious, novel and developing threat. In this guise, they have been blamed for causing the riots of 2011, most gun related crime, the sexual violation of women, and outbreaks of dangerous dogs. Hallsworth argues that when subject to critical scrutiny, there is always an excess to the violence blamed on gangs that is not gang related and explanations for problems blamed on gangs can be advanced without needing to evoke the gang as an explanatory factor. In light of this, the book considers how best we might understand the nature of violent street worlds without falling into the pitfalls of the discourse of gang talk, exploring questions such as 'How do we have a gang problem?' and 'How best do we avoid one?'

This book is provocative, polemical and theoretical and one that seeks to make a significant intervention into both gangs studies and studies of urban violence more generally, commanding significant social attention in the academy and beyond.

Review quote:

"The 'gang' has become a magical word used to explain away crime, riots, sexual assault, drug dealing and almost every manifestation of violence in our society. Simon Hallsworth's book is a devastating critique: iconoclastic, hard hitting, and amusing. Read it." - Jock Young, John Jay College, City University of New York, USA and author of The Criminological Imagination

"Simon Hallsworth's The Gang and Beyond is precisely the sort of boldly brilliant work that criminology badly needs but seldom sees. Strikingly original in its scholarly perspective and in its narrative orientation, this book constitutes an intellectually audacious confrontation with gangs, gang scholarship, and the assumptions that surround them." - Jeff Ferrell, Texas Christian University, USA

"Provocative and stimulating, this book provides an emphatic critique of the 'common sense' surrounding youth gangs in the UK and elsewhere. From auto-ethnography to moral outrage at gang talk distortions, Simon Hallsworth provides a personal and powerful indictment of the gang industry within academia, including its convergence with rapidly expanding and inappropriate gang suppression efforts, and its failure to fully understand street culture and street violence. Not to be missed." - Rob White, University of Tasmania, Australia

Table of contents:

Introduction
Welcome to gangland UK
My goodness, how things have changed
Themes
So what is this all about?

Part I: Gangland Claims and Gangland Realities
1. Gangs, Weapons and Violence
2.The Fists and the Fury: My Life in a Sea of Gangs

Part II: On Gang Talk and Gang-Talkers
3. Deciphering Gang Talk
Defining gang talk
Reading gang talk as a language game
The seduction of gang talk
Unforeseen consequences
Conclusion
4. Moral Panic and Industry
Emergence
From reality to gang-talking fantasy: reflections on the
media inventory The journey back: reshaping reality in the image of gang fantasies
The industrial logic of 'gang' production
Conclusion

Part III: Getting Real about Violence
5. Arborealism and Rhizomatics: A Treatise
The sedentary and the nomadic
Arborealism
Rhizomatics
Back to the street
Reading the street as rhizome
Rhizomatic organisation
Conclusion
6. Back to the Street
Beyond the gang
Street imperatives
Instability, trauma and street life
Conclusion
7. Continuities and Discontinuities in Urban Violence
Street violence in the postwar period
Continuities
Discontinuities: on neoliberalism and its consequences
Conclusion
How to have a gang problem
Koyaanisqutsi

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