Social Psychology of Gangs: An Intergroup Communication Perspective

Dajung Woo, Howard Giles, Michael A. Hogg, Liran Goldman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

12 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Gangs
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781118726822
ISBN (Print)9781118726877
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


  • Gang members
  • Intergroup communication perspective
  • Social categorization process
  • Social identity
  • Social psychological processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Social Psychology of Gangs: An Intergroup Communication Perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this