How do Females Make Sense of Their Experiences of Being Involved in Gang Activity?

Prof Doc Thesis

Couper, Rachel 2016. How do Females Make Sense of Their Experiences of Being Involved in Gang Activity? Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Psychology
AuthorsCouper, Rachel
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Female gang involvement continues to be a largely under researched topic,
particularly within the UK and understandings are often based on the perspectives
of male participants. Furthermore, media discourses continue to be individualistic
and blaming, and often fail to consider the impact of the wider context on a
person’s experiences. Taking a critical realist – social constructionist
epistemological position, this research aims to contribute to the understanding of
female gang involvement. This study recruited four young women who had
previous experiences of gang involvement. Participants were interviewed about
their experiences of gang involvement, factors that influenced them to become
involved and what helped them transition out of a gang. An Interpretative
Phenomenological Analysis was carried out and four super-ordinate themes were
identified, which were: getting involved; ‘the circle of life’, getting involved; ‘survival,
being involved; ‘a double edged sword’, getting out and staying out. The findings
of this study suggest that growing up around gangs and a failure to have needs
met influence young women to become involved in gangs. Experiences of being
involved were framed as a ‘double-edged sword’, as the participants described
both positive and negative experiences. Although some experiences of gang
involvement were experienced as being positive, the all or nothingness of gangs,
sexism, and experiences of violence and betrayal within relationships, made it
extremely difficult for these young women to survive, and thrive, within this context.
These negative experiences lead them to question life within the gang. However,
getting out was described as a complex process, particularly because of the
permanency of gang involvement and adverse social contexts. The implications of
this research, for clinical practice and future research, are outlined.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintJun 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Nov 2016
Publisher's version
Permalink -

Download files

  • 246
    total views
  • 1517
    total downloads
  • 1
    views this month
  • 13
    downloads this month

Export as