The Social Construction Of Female Gangs Criminology Essay


In the UK, there has been really small research on female pack job which has led to the huge sum of research from the USA being applied to the UK state of affairs. Female packs have been in being throughout history although really small has been said about its members beyond their function as sexual objects. Hallsworth and Young ( 2008 ) :176 ) following a place office study in 2008 province that ‘the pack was for the first clip explicitly linked to the job of urban force and lifting arm usage in the UK ‘ ( 2008:176 ) and harmonizing to Campbell ( 1990 ) “ misss have been a portion of packs since the earliest histories from New York in the early 1800s ” ( 1990:166 ) . Female pack activity has been on the addition in the latter half of the 20th century and as such, these activities have progressively become violent. In this essay, I will lucubrate on the significance of packs and female packs utilizing assorted definitions given by cardinal writers. My chief involvement in this paper will be to discourse the historical background of female packs and the cardinal arguments environing these packs in relation to the literature written by writers of different qualities and besides the myths as portrayed by the society. I will besides be interested in discoursing the media building of female packs giving illustrations which will take me to research the disjunction between what the media says about female packs and what the world is.

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The term ‘gang ‘ harmonizing to Schneider and Tilley ( 2004 ) does non hold a individual definition even though it “ is used universally by research workers, constabularies, societal workers, media and the general populace ” ( 2004: eighteen ) . The US National Criminal Justice Reference Service have defined the term ‘gang ‘ as a group of three or more people who have a common name or mark and have an purpose of prosecuting in condemnable activity. In the UK context, ‘experts ‘ have found it hard to make a consensus on whether or non packs exist and how they can be defined ( Aldridge and Medina, 2008 ; Alexander, 2008 ; Broadhurst et al. , 2009 ; Hallsworth and Silverstone, 2009 ; Her Majesty ‘s Inspectorate of Prisons, 2010 ; Pickles, 2009 ; Pitts, 2008 ) . Webster ‘s Dictionary ( 1961 ) gives us another definition saying that a pack is “ a set or group of individuals ” who involve themselves in condemnable or socially unacceptable behaviour ( 1961:74 ) . Female pack is merely a miss group or persons who are involved in condemnable activities and portion the same names, symbols and marks as their individuality. Female packs do non hold a seeable leader and harmonizing to research that they tend to be reasonably informal.and they do non frequently have a seeable leader. Campbell for illustration in the Huff ‘s book on Gangs in America ( 1990 ) observes that in Los Angeles some packs have ‘veterinas ‘ or ‘godmothers ‘ but she goes on to state that “ typically the members insist there is no leader and that determinations are made democratically. Campbell ‘s observation suggests that some misss clearly have more clout than others, but that this normally is non formalized as a leading function. ” ( 1990: 178 ) .

In this reappraisal, I will discourse about female packs pulling upon American research but with more accent on the lifting phenomenon of female packs in Britain. In order to carry through my purpose for this literature reappraisal, I will utilize primary beginnings, some secondary beginnings and other policy paperss or authorities publications to enable me do decisions and recommendations, placing spreads in cognition which may animate other research workers into thoughts for farther research and besides enable me to give my general sentiment of how I feel about the societal building of female packs by the media much of which I tend to differ with.

Literature Review

Historical Background

Many research workers and journalists have for a long clip assumed that misss and adult females did non take portion in condemnable behaviours and therefore the issue of female pack has frequently been ignored. Campbell ‘s ( 1990 ) reappraisal on girl packs provinces that, “ misss were defined entirely in footings of their dealingss to male gang members ” ( 1990:166 ) . Work forces have ever been the point of concentration in look intoing pack offenses and until late, female pack members were seen as ‘sex objects or romps ‘ . Literature has shown that research workers describe female packs as arm bearers for the male opposite numbers in add-on, Moore and Hagedorn ( 2001 ) argue that “ even when depicting female pack members as romps, research workers emphasized that the females ‘ motives were focused on males ” ( 2001: 2 ) . Looking at the UK context of female packs, literature on misss and packs has non been good developed because research workers in Britain have non seen the demand to concentrate on female packs ( Campbell and Muncer, 1989 ; Sanders, 2002 ) . Harmonizing to Downes ( 1966 ) ; Parker ( 1974 ) and Scott ( 1956 ) , the UK tried to use American pack theories to turn to the job of street packs but these efforts failed over clip taking to deficiency of informations on packs. This explains why there is no sound grounds as in the instance of USA, “ for the proliferation of violent street packs ” ( Hallsworth and Young, 2008: 177 ) .

Female Involvement is non a new happening universally. In fact, there has been a batch of concern on the rise of female engagement in pack concern over the old ages. Early surveies found that there was a “ 50 percent addition in serious offenses by teenage gins between 1968 and 1974, compared to a 10 per centum addition for male childs and apprehensions of misss under 18 for violent offenses rose 393 per centum between 1960 and 1978, compared to 82 per centum for male childs ” ( CASA Website ) . Miller ( 2001 ) compared young person pack engagement in 1950, and found out that “ youth packs of the 1980 ‘s and 1990 ‘s are more legion, more prevailing, and more violent than in the 1950 ‘s, likely more than at any clip in the state ‘s history ” ( 2001: 263 ) . In the early 1980s, Anne Campbell ( 1981 ) became interested and had concerns about female wrongdoers which led her to carry on an probe about the happenings of force amongst misss in Britain. Campbell, ( 1984 ) besides did an probe on female packs in America and this led to her decisions that the job of female packs was socially constructed. She criticized Britain for merely concentrating on male packs and disregarding female packs and illustrated that in New York, adult females were really improbable to form in to packs in large Numberss because the female groups were merely known to follow male groups ( Campbell, 1995 ) . Recent surveies on misss and force besides shows that there has been an addition in violent and aggressive behavior by misss and this has been catalyzed by media attending. Earlier on, people knew really small about misss ‘ force because there was a belief that force was entirely committed by work forces. The survey findings show really small grounds proposing that misss are physically violent.


Academic research on pack rank in the UK is really thin as mentioned earlier on and there is small grounds demoing that immature adult females have experiential experience in perpetrating force. It has been hard to determine the Numberss of female packs although there is a important being of the members. On the other manus, in the US, women’s rightist research workers have tried to supply a more ‘nuanced portraiture of the complex gender experiences of misss in packs ‘ ( Miller, 2001: 16 ) . They have demonstrated that girls engagement in female packs meets their gender outlooks and experience heightened hazards for physical and sexual victimization and besides ascertains that pack rank provides them with a sense of belonging, giving them assurance and safety from their opprobrious households ( Campbell, 1990 ; Joe and Chesney-Lind, 1995 ; Joe Laidler and Hunt, 2001 ; Miller, 2001, 2008 ; Moore, 1991 ; Nurge, 2003 ) . Many packs appear to be more extremely structured than delinquent groups but that does non unfit the fact that they may still be seen as slackly organized. Several factors such as age, vicinities and so on are considered as the footing of deriving entry to these packs or going a member. The pack sizes scope from a member group of four or five and can travel beyond a 1000. There have been different categorization of pack groups such as the leaders, associates of the habitues so there are the peripheral members and eventually the recruits.

Most surveies have shown that the grounds why females join packs are because of friendship influence, it is seen as a signifier of solidarity and self avowal. Research has indicated that those childs who grow up in dysfunctional households and whose parents are in prison may happen it appropriate to fall in pack groups. Many young person pack formation is as a consequence of the present deteriorating economic conditions which are characterized by hapless lodging, deficiency of school constructions and installations and deficiency of Torahs that regulate misdemeanor of young person packs. Bing in a female pack may be a safety from physical and sexual maltreatment at place. Young et Al. ‘s ( 2007 ) was involved in a research which straight involved misss and immature adult females who had association with female pack and this gave him a different image of their engagement. UK surveies of female packs have indicated that misss and immature adult females are merely portrayed as ‘girlfriends ‘ to their male pack members but Young et Al ‘s engagement in questioning some of the females indicated that their groups were chiefly composed of equals whose chief ground for being together was apparent friendly relationship and denied that their groups were packs.

However in the US, Miller ( 2001 ) states that immature adult females ‘s group formation was through friendly relationships from school, their house vicinities and non through any induction rites to fall in these groups. Evidence uncovered by Young et Al. ( 2007 ) stated that all the female groups interviewed referred to each other as their couples. “ Seven immature adult females belonged to all-female groups and although they would sporadically hang about with the local immature work forces, this was non because these relationships with males were considered to be of import or necessary. Indeed, from their testimonies it was apparent that these adult females did non see the males about them as friends or even friendly, nor did this group enter into intimate relationships with the immature work forces they associated with. These immature adult females determined when they associated with the males in their societal circle and were non significantly influenced by the actions of males or male-dominated groups ” ( Young et al. , 2007: 143 ) .

A survey conducted by Pitts in 2007 considers female rank in packs as ‘Reluctant Gangsters: Youth Gangs in Waltham Forest ‘ ( Pitts, 2007 ) . Harmonizing to Pitts ( 2007 ) , immature adult females in packs are “ frequently sexually exploited, sometimes in exchange for drugs and the relationships ( they have with male members ) tend to be opprobrious ; one of laterality and entry and besides some senior pack members pass their girlfriends around to take down ranking members and sometimes to the whole group at the same clip ” ( 2007: 39 ) . Pitts ( 2007 ) analyze provinces that the ground why immature adult females, or ‘girlfriends ‘ , are attracted to the packs is chiefly because they believe they can be ‘glamorous ‘ or go ‘celebrities ‘ within the group. It is ill-defined how members of female packs are able to keep long term functions and specific place given that the nucleus members decide on the primary functions of the pack groups. Some members join the groups for a short period and others may travel on to other pack groups after a certain period of clip but in all these groups, the nucleus members still remain in charge of the condemnable activities.


The most widely used informations on female packs has been from the countrywide studies of jurisprudence enforcement bureaus. Miller ( 1975 ) stated that a study conducted in the mid-1970s indicated that 10 per centum of all pack members were estimated to be female and harmonizing to Spergel ( 1995 ) , a national study found that in 1992 merely 3.7 per centum of all pack members were female. This was due to the fact that 32 per centum of the surveyed legal powers did non, “ as a affair of policy, ” identify females as pack members ( Curry and Decker, 1998: 98 ) . Four old ages subsequently in 1996 there was an estimation that 11 per centum and so 1998, 8 per centum of all packs were female ( Moore and Terrett, 1998 ; National Youth Gang Center, 2000 ) . It is noted that it is in little metropoliss and rural countries where female packs are more likely to be found and their ethnicities vary by parts ( National Youth Gang Center, 2000 ) . In 2003 the Channel 4 documental Dispatches emphasized that the pack job was progressively distributing in the UK and every bit many as 30,000 packs were functional and 57 per centum included female members ( Thompson, 2003 ) .

The Metropolitan Police Service ( MPS, 2005 ) released the most recent figures with findings that there were 174 street packs in London. In 2006 the MPS figures showed that there was a 66.6 per cent addition in gang rank raising the figure of UK packs to 50,000 of which 2500 of the entire figure were immature adult females ( MPS, 2006 ) . The United States pack Numberss harmonizing to recent constabulary estimations indicate that there are 27,000 packs with about 788,000 members ( National Youth Gang Survey, 2007 ) . Harmonizing to these studies, there was a 25 % addition in the reported Numberss of pack and pack jobs since the twelvemonth 2001 where there was a low study on pack jobs ( National Gang Center, 2009 ) . Curry, Fox, Ball, & A ; Stone ( 1992 ) and National Gang Center ( 2009 ) reported that in 2007 there were pack jobs in big metropoliss, 86 % more than what was reported in 1983 which was at 50 % when the pack job was merely get downing to turn.

The media building of female packs

Media representations on packs and more specifically female packs have played a really large function in informing the societal world by a societal constructionist position. In the past two decennaries, pack offense activities have dominated the offense intelligence and the quality of life among rural and urban inhabitants has been eroded besides, violent immature females have been “ presented as a new and turning societal job ” ( Batchelor, 2009:408 ) . Harmonizing to Batchelor ( 2009 ) misss have been perceived to be the same as male childs particularly in contending “ to support themselves ” ( 2009:400 ) . Batchelor continues to reason that immature adult females who involve themselves in male packs have been used as bearers of arms and drugs and in some instances the misss have been exploited sexually. News in the media has claimed that immature adult females have acted as the caputs of anti-social young person groups who commit offenses like colza, slaying and violent robbery ( Young, 2009 ) .

Many newspapers produce narratives with an purpose of pulling people ‘s attending and informing them on what they think the populace want to read about therefore doing a batch of gross revenues on the documents. The media ‘s chief involvement had been to heighten its economic facet by pull stringsing the public manner of believing about offense and its societal context ( Potter and Kappeler 1998 ) . The chief part of the media has been harmonizing to Best ( 1993:119 ) , ‘a contextual constructionism ‘ of packs where the media makes certain picks of what to cover in the intelligence which contributes to the societal building of the world. “ Crime narrations and representations are, and have ever been, a outstanding portion of the content of all mass media ” ( Reiner, 2007:305 ) , with beginnings such as newspapers and telecasting docudramas playing “ a cardinal function in making public perceptual experiences of offense and hence act uponing their perceptual experiences about the extent of offense and the hazard of enduring it ” ( Treadwell, 2006:77 ) .

Media studies particularly in the UK have non been backed up by concrete grounds on the wider female pack jobs. The Centre for Social Justice ( 2009 ) states that “ media coverage has, at times, been implicative of an epidemic in gang-related young person force ” ( 2009:19 ) . In the UK, telecasting headlines and docudramas associating to gang force and the coming up of miss packs has been dominant and that has non been different in the instance of USA where it has been reported that pack groups “ are armed, unsafe and prepared to kill ” ( Hallsworth and Young, 2008:176 ) . Despite the fact that packs and pack activity has been seen as a societal job to society and despite the regular strong beliefs from the intelligence that has shaped such jobs, a comprehensive and systematic analysis of newspaper coverage of packs and society ‘s war on packs has non been undertaken. There have been extraordinary instances of female force reported. For illustration the reported instance of a ‘frenzied onslaught ‘ of eight aliens which was enacted by Chelsea O’Mahoney, who was the lone female member of ‘Sergeant Crew ‘ , in concurrence with her male friends ( Laville, 2005 ) . This instance signifies that there are bing modern miss pack members who offend the jurisprudence. The imperativeness gave an feeling that made the public perceive the miss involved as aggressive and one capable of utmost behavior, a problem shaper who causes mayhem in and out of her group and catalyses others to be involved in aggressive behavior ( Thompson,2003 ) .

In the following subdivision, I will analyse the literature reappraisal and the media ‘s perceptual experience towards female packs. I will research the information given in order to see if there is a gulf between what the media says and what the world is about female packs. This will help me in doing proper decision about the media building of female packs.


It has been argued that studies on female packs piquing the jurisprudence is really low compared to male wrongdoers and noted that female force is a comparatively rare happening harmonizing to offense statistics. Assorted writers like Campbell ( 1995 ) have stated that Britain for many old ages had non developed any research on female packs whereas in New York, female groups were merely seen as followings of their male opposite numbers and could non perchance organize pack groups to form offenses. On the other manus, the imperativeness has had much to compose on the documents and commentate in intelligence about miss mobsters particularly in the last 10 old ages. Harmonizing to Tara ( 2009 ) there have been intelligence studies postulating that immature adult females are traditionally engaged in violent offenses. Reports have in surplus claimed that many anti-social young person groups are now headed by immature adult females and they commit offense such us rape, slaying and robbery. Honigsbaum ( 2006 ) states that immature adult females in the UK are cited to be amongst the most violent and aggressive in the universe. It is clear that there have been a few empirical surveies on female pack rank particularly in the UK although the media coverage of violent offenses committed by immature adult females has created a certain perceptual experience towards the miss mobsters. This building of female packs has besides been through the statistical grounds that has been provided by functionaries from the jurisprudence enforcement section.

Comparing the literature on female packs and what the media has had to state about this subject, it is apparent that there have been gaps in research on female engagement in packs in the UK which is the same instance as the American pack literature where else, the media has been successful in socially building the miss packs even though its grounds is really light. Over the old ages, most research workers have concentrated on look intoing the male packs, analyzing the condemnable behavior of work forces and disregarding the female opposite numbers. Harmonizing to Pitts ( 2007 ) , the female packs have non been recognized or in some instances, research has been conducted in mention to the experience of work forces. In world, female packs have been in being for decennaries but it has been hard to come up with the true image of the job. In the instance of UK, there have been claims that presently immature adult females are more likely to prosecute in street packs and these adult females are more likely to prosecute in serious violent offense. This information is non significant because the media seems to overstate this sort of violent offense therefore determining the public perceptual experiences of packs. There is a job of statistic as good.

It has been noted that female packs exist in larger metropoliss but there is no grounds to propose that female offense is a national job, therefore the true job can non be identified. Unrealistic public attitudes towards misss ‘ packs have been the order of the twenty-four hours because there has been deceit of misss ‘ lives and this harmonizing to Batchelor ( 2001 ) has created a misdirected public policy. The media has been fond of trusting on simple statistics and typical pack instances that have no grounds and this has complicated the treatments of complex socio-specific contexts of force in misss ‘ lives ( Batchelor, 2001 ) . Young adult females ‘s echt jobs continue to be marginalized and ignored as the media continues to give incorrect information to the public therefore doing the misss become a job. Batchelor ( 2005 ) ; Coy ( 2008 ) suggest that it is of import that any stairss taken to turn to jobs of pack engagement by immature adult females should be from the world and should be able to admit the immature adult females are active agents and victims.

As I have discussed above, most of the force that is experienced by misss and immature adult females, as both culprits and victims, takes topographic point within either the household or their friendship group. This means that societal work and probation practicians need to give careful attending to the familial and peer contexts of immature adult females ‘s offending, seting in head that both groups can be at the same time harmful and protective. ( Batchelor, 2005 ) argues that if we are to working towards set uping alteration in immature adult females wrongdoers ‘ lives, we need to maximise on their engagement and engagement in assorted positive activities. These activities should enable them associate good with their households and friends and besides the societal work squads in order to hold positive dealingss. There is demand for accessible and low-cost leisure activities which can be effectual in busying the misss and immature adult females ‘s heads and turn to some specific demands like intimidation and victimization.

It could be argued that research in to the phenomena of the miss pack particularly in the UK is hardly equal therefore doing it hard to do quantifying decision of the miss pack job. Much of this essay clearly provinces that ‘crime statistics show that compared to male piquing female force is a comparatively rare happening ‘ ( Young, 2009:224 ) , and any rise in female force may non ever be gang related. I will reason this essay by bespeaking that a batch of information represented by the media is merely premises with no grounds to endorse it and research workers can make more towards looking more into the job.


There seems to be no concrete theory as to why misss of adult females get involved in violent offenses but there have been assorted factors that have been cited to hold played a major function in act uponing them to fall in gang activities. Parental carelessness, poorness, teenage gestations, deficiency of instruction, sick wellness, early engagement in sexual activities and peer group influence are some of the factors that drive these misss and adult females into packs. Research workers, the jurisprudence enforcement system, school, community based programmes and households have ignored the fact that female packs exist and have confined immature female to victimization and this has resulted to the rise of female force. This essay has considered the background information of female packs, the definition of pack and female pack, the key debates environing these packs in relation to literature written, besides the media building of female packs and the myths as portrayed by the society.

It is argued that many research workers have ignored females as packs and “ the impression seems to be that female packs and their members are ‘pale imitations ‘ of male packs ” ( Spergel, 1995: 90 ) . Due to miss of research, facts that have been written and reproduced in books about female packs are based on journalists ‘ and probation officers studies and besides the statements given by the male pack members. Looking at the past and current research on female packs, it is clear that they do be in the UK and the USA although the statistics given are socially constructed due to the fact that the pack related instances are underreported. Reliable statistics may demo that the job of female packs is non every bit big as the media portrays it to be and with the media catalysing the job, it may hold negative effects such as labeling to misss and immature adult females. Media studies fuelling a moral terror can besides hold an impact on how the community and the authorities responds to female packs therefore neglecting to undertake the demands of these female groups.

I will reason by stating that it would be of import for research workers to further research the job of female packs because I wholly agree that they exist and need attending otherwise the job will acquire out of manus if ignored. The media should halt overstating facts on female packs and dressed ore on happening out the true image of these packs.


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