Gangs, Youth Offending and Social Capital: Tales of Glasgow’s Lost Boys (pp. 199-214)
Authors: (Ross Deuchar)
Abstract: There is currently a widespread social concern about young people’s behaviour in urban localities and, in particular, their engagement in gang violence. This chapter draws upon insights from Glasgow (Scotland’s largest city), where there is a long history of gang-related issues. It documents the origins of Glasgow gangs, and explores contemporary views on the reasons why a minority of young gang members might progress to more persistent offending. The chapter presents detailed insights from the lives of two young Glasgow men who have a long history of involvement in gang violence and subsequent offending. Drawing upon social capital as a theoretical lens, the chapter draws some conclusions about the young participants’ motivations for participating in gang violence and subsequent offending as well as the impact of the youth justice interventions that they have been exposed to. The insights from the young men’s case histories illustrate the way in which social and structural disadvantage can lead towards gang membership and violence, and particular social and emotional vulnerability can lead to more persistent offending. The conclusions highlight the way in which the criminal justice system sanctions young men to become exposed and to often lock them into repeated cycles of criminality and further erode the generation of pro-social capital that may be linked to desistance from offending.