A series of on-line seminars on gangs


The Dictionary Speaks: Gangs are "Bad Persons."

The public stereotype of gangs is one of violence and death. This mural is a memorial to one of the victims of Chicago's gang violence.

For more, go to Chicagohoodz


1. Websters
2. Thrasher: diagrams and Mark Twain too!
3. Criminalizing the Definition: Mac Klein and the US Criminal Code
4. Group Process Defintions:Jim Short &Joan Moore.
5.John Hagedorn's Working Definition. Post Industrial Gangs
6.References on social science definitions of gangs.

 | Great Cities |
UIC Criminal Justice Department




Let's start with the dictionary. Webster defines "gang" this way:


"gang n [ME, walking, journey, fr. OE; akin to OE gangan] (15c) 1 a (1): a set of articles: outfit (2): a combination of similar implements or devices arranged for convenience to act together b: group: as (1): a group of persons working together (2): a group of persons working to unlawful or antisocial ends; esp: a band of antisocial adolescents 2: a group of persons having informal and usu. close social relations."

When I put "gang member" into my Roget's Thesaurus in my Microsoft Bookshelf program, I came up with this:

"bad person, evil person, no saint, sinner, hardened sinner, limb of Satan, Antichrist, evildoer, fallen angel, backslider, recidivist, lost sheep, lost soul... one without morals, immoralist reprobate, scapegrace, good-for-nothing, ne'er-do-well, black sheep, scallywag, scamp, rake...profligate, libertine, wanton, hussy, loose woman..., outcast, dregs, riffraff, trash, white trash, scum, object of scorn..."

And it went on. When the word "gang" is mentioned, we cringe, we become scared, we look for a cop.

But sociology has not always defined gangs in such an unfeeling, negative manner. Consider the definition of FREDERIC THRASHER, the father of American gang research. GO TO NEXT PAGE