• Thinking about gangs

      Andell, Paul (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2015)
      It can be argued that policy formations in the UK to address street gangs has encompassed positions of both gang denial and gang blame. These policy positions precede and succeed the English riots of 2011. The policy pendulum of denial and blame raises questions about what is actually going on with regard to UK gangs and what are the ideas and influences that have framed our responses to this issue? This thesis explores these concerns by an analysis of empirical evidence from 3 sites in 2 English regions from a time line, which encompasses periods of both gang denial and gang blame. An examination of some of the drivers and contingencies involved in policy making are examined with respect to UK gangs and discrepancies between empirical evidence, how this is understood and represented is highlighted. In short the thesis is an examination of the relationship between theory, policy and practice in the context of the current UK gangs debate. The thesis argues that there is a need to formulate a less partial analysis of gangs and to recapture the debate from analyses and responses which either under play or over play the gang problem. It is contended that in order to do so a realist approach is needed which defines what constitutes social reality and overcomes theoretical and methodological difficulties in order to critique present formulations of gangs. The thesis provides this critique and makes suggestions for a more comprehensive and democratic approach to gang policy in what can be termed a Critical Realist approach to gangs.