The Construction of the Gang in British Columbia
McConnell, K. (2015). The Construction of the Gang in British Columbia: Mafioso, Gangster, or Thug? An Examination of the Uniqueness of the BC Gangster Phenomenon.
This thesis explores the structure, demographics, and history of gangs in British Columbia (BC), Canada, through a social constructionist lens. The purpose of the research is for the reader to consider the current state of gangs in BC as inherently different from other places in the world, to assist in understanding why there may be misconceptions, and to promote the research and implement of more appropriate context-specific intereventions. Building on previous work conducted as a Vancouver Police officer of over 27 years, I participated in field observations with gang units in Toronto and Hobbema, Canada; Chicago and Los Angeles, USA; and London, England. I also examined gang typologies and definitions in academic literature as a segment of the historical context of gang research and highlight how these bodies of literature contribute to the social construction of gangs. A historical review of media-reported gang violence in BC from 1903 to 2012 demonstrates that gang violence is not a new phenomenon, and its history is an essential element in the constructed concept of the gang. As well, I conducted semi-structured interviews with participants who either police gangs, work with gangs, or were former gang members to get their perspectives on the issue. The research findings highlight that gangs in BC are distinct from other locations, Whereas traditional at-risk youth dominate gangs elsewhere, BC has a large number of youth involved in gangs who do not appear to possess the typical antecedents to gang involvement. Because of these differences, it is crucial that anti-gang initiatives and policies be adapted to BC context to effectively reduce gang activity and ultimately eliminate gangs., gangs, British Columbia, constuctionism, social construction, Vancouver Police