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Title: How do females make sense of their experiences of being involved in gang activity?
Author: Couper, Rachel
ISNI:       0000 0004 5990 5939
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2016
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Female gang involvement continues to be a largely under researched topic, particularly within the UK and understandings are often based on the perspectives of male participants. Furthermore, media discourses continue to be individualistic and blaming, and often fail to consider the impact of the wider context on a person’s experiences. Taking a critical realist – social constructionist epistemological position, this research aims to contribute to the understanding of female gang involvement. This study recruited four young women who had previous experiences of gang involvement. Participants were interviewed about their experiences of gang involvement, factors that influenced them to become involved and what helped them transition out of a gang. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was carried out and four super-ordinate themes were identified, which were: getting involved; ‘the circle of life’, getting involved; ‘survival, being involved; ‘a double edged sword’, getting out and staying out. The findings of this study suggest that growing up around gangs and a failure to have needs met influence young women to become involved in gangs. Experiences of being involved were framed as a ‘double-edged sword’, as the participants described both positive and negative experiences. Although some experiences of gang involvement were experienced as being positive, the all or nothingness of gangs, sexism, and experiences of violence and betrayal within relationships, made it extremely difficult for these young women to survive, and thrive, within this context. These negative experiences lead them to question life within the gang. However, getting out was described as a complex process, particularly because of the permanency of gang involvement and adverse social contexts. The implications of this research, for clinical practice and future research, are outlined.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral