Hughes finds evidence of higher levels of violence among less cohesive street gangs.
It is well established that membership in a gang increases the likelihood of criminal behavior beyond the effects of social selection. An important theoretical development concerning this relationship is the group process perspective, which explains gang member behavior as a function of ongoing relations and interactions within the context of the gang. Professor Lorine Hughes used data from Short and Strodtbeck's (1965) study of gangs in Chicago, 1959–1962, to examine the association between intragang friendship networks and violent and delinquent behaviors among 248 boys from 11 different gangs. Contrary to expectations of tightly connected gangs being the most dangerous, she found increased levels of violence among gangs with relatively low group cohesion. No relationship was observed between delinquency and gang cohesiveness. Further, popular boys were at a significantly increased risk for both delinquency and violence, suggesting a link between prestigious positions within the structure of gang friendship networks and conformity with group processes. The full results of this study recently appeared in Criminology (2013, Volume 51, Issue 4).
Story published 11/2013