Open Access Article of the Week: The Semiotics of the Evolving Gang Masculinity and Glasgow by McLean and Holligan

Glasgow has a persistent and historical gang culture. Dimensions of ‘the gang’ are widely recognized in terms of behavior, formation, membership, and territoriality. The gap in our knowledge lies in the nature of a gang’s evolutionary flexibility. Given that life-course criminology foregrounds continuity and change in offending, it is surprising that this evolution has gone unrecognized in Scotland. Many contemporary studies of youth gangs connect ‘gang talk’ exclusively with territoriality and masculinity overlooking criminal progression. The argument of this article does not dispute the dominant received conceptualization of the youth urban street gang. The article’s contribution is to progress beyond these narrowing tropes and chronological age boundaries to encompass a more complex portrayal of Glasgow gangs and the lives of the indigenous Scottish young lads who were interviewed. The article does this by voicing the lived experiences of those whose lives are enmeshed with gang membership and whose linguistic register rarely achieves a serious platform in the middle-class world in control of the British media.

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