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Title: Transgressing gender? : a study of girls in gangs.
Author: Walter, Isabel.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3557 9604
Awarding Body: South Bank University
Current Institution: London South Bank University
Date of Award: 1999
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This study is an investigation into how young women construct and understand their participation in delinquent groups. Although such gangs are commonly seen as expressive or constitutive of masculinity, the girls of this research viewed their gang involvement as forging distinct femininities. In-depth interviews were conducted with 25 past and present female gang members. A grounded reflexive methodology focused on gang girls' "Voice" by exploring how theseyoung women articulated their experiences. This located particular narratives through which respondents made sense of their gang involvement. Girls told stories of the. gang as a place of belonging, ftiendship, excitement and family. They also described how the crime and violence of the gang were a means to negotiate questions of identity, status and power. Such storytellings revealed the social and subjective rewards gang involvement offers young women. Further, by attending to how gang girls' narratives manifest the race, age, class and gender locations of their speakers, the analysis of this study observed how gang participation enacts wider questions of social power at a local level. Popular and academic explanations of gang girls reproduce stereotypes of female law-breakers as Mad or Bad, as victims of troubled. personal histories., or as liberated and so somehow "male'. These all assume that delinquency is normatively masculine behaviour. In contrast, this study presents a grounded reading of how gang girls negotiated their gender identities which suggests thq crime and violence may offer feminine identities too. Girls in gangs were neither gender "liberated", nor simply subject to normative gender definitions. They displayed agency in constructing femininities of difference from other girls, but their gendered self-expressionsw ere also constrained by dominant relations of power. Rather than assume what is "masculine" and what "feminine" in advance, this suggests we need situated analyses of how gender is differentially constituted across diverse race/class/agelo cales, and how these constructions may then be linked to offending.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sociology