This chapter focuses on social psychological processes that may be operating when youth decide to join a gang. First, it argues that gang membership can be an alternative attractive option for youth who lack a clear sense of their social identity and are marginalized by their peers or community. Then, it discusses why young people join gangs, focusing on social identity, identification and categorization processes, and what happens when gang members develop strong identification after joining a gang. The chapter emphasizes the importance of communication, specifically the messages communicated by, among, and to gang members. The discussion here focuses on four topics related to communication: communicating gang identity and activities; communicating loyalty and commitment through socialization; communicating adults' expectations to youth; and the influence of media on youths' aspiration for gang membership. Finally, the chapter outlines implications for preventing youth from turning to gangs, and sketches some future research directions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Sciences(all)
- Gang members
- Intergroup communication perspective
- Social categorization process
- Social identity
- Social psychological processes