“Streets of menace”: Constructing and deconstructing youth “gangs” in two Australian cities

Authors

  • Murray Lee University of Sydney
  • Mark Halsey Flinders University
  • Asher Flynn Monash University

Keywords:

young people, violence, de-escalation, gang discourse, j´óvenes, violencia, desescalar, discurso de bandas

Abstract

This paper explores the symbolic and instrumental impacts associated with labelling particular groups of young people as perpetrators of organised gang activity. Using case studies from two Australian cities, we point primarily to the constitutive and damaging nature of much media and public discourse about youth gang crime and show how young offenders’ disadvantage and disenfranchisement is rendered largely invisible or immaterial to understanding the causes and solutions to such problems. In an era of “fake news”, social media “echo chambers”, civil conflict, mass international migration / forced diasporas, as well as the reassertion of strong sovereign borders, we ask: how might one de-escalate the “monstering” of young people whose identity (and presence and place in society) is known primarily, if not exclusively, through the “noise” and visibility of their offending?

Este artículo explora los efectos simbólicos e instrumentales relacionados con etiquetar grupos concretos de jóvenes como autores de actividad organizada de bandas. Utilizando estudios de caso de dos ciudades australianas, apuntamos principalmente a la naturaleza constitutiva y perniciosa de gran parte de los discursos mediáticos y públicos sobre delincuencia de bandas juveniles, y mostramos cómo la desventaja y la privación de derechos de los jóvenes delincuentes se invisibilizan o se desmaterializan a la hora de entender las causas y las soluciones a dichos problemas. En una época de noticias falsas, “ecocámaras” de las redes sociales, conflicto social, migración masiva internacional y diásporas forzosas, así como en la reasignación de fuertes fronteras soberanas, nos preguntamos cómo se puede desescalar la “monsterización” de jóvenes cuya identidad (y presencia y lugar en la sociedad) es conocida, sobre todo, si no exclusivamente, por el "ruido" y la visibilización de sus delitos.

Available from: https://doi.org/10.35295/osls.iisl/0000-0000-0000-1212

Author Biographies

Murray Lee, University of Sydney

University of Sydney, Sydney Law School. Email address: murray.lee@sydney.edu.au ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2220-0313

Mark Halsey, Flinders University

Mark Halsey, Centre for Crime Policy & Research, College of Business, Government & Law, Flinders University. Email address: mark.halsey@flinders.edu.au ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1414-9346

Asher Flynn, Monash University

Asher Flynn, Criminology, School of Social Sciences, Monash University. Email address: asher.flynn@monash.edu ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6147-8273

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Published

01-10-2021

How to Cite

Lee, M., Halsey, M. and Flynn, A. (2021) ““Streets of menace”: Constructing and deconstructing youth ‘gangs’ in two Australian cities”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 11(5), pp. 1114–1132. Available at: https://opo.iisj.net/index.php/osls/article/view/1249 (Accessed: 17 October 2021).