‘It ain’t nothing like America with the Bloods and the Crips’: Gang narratives inside two English prisons

ArticleinPunishment & Society 14(1):51-68 · January 2012with 36 Reads
Abstract
This article explores recent concerns about the emergence of gangs in prisons in England and Wales. Using narrative interviews with male prisoners as part of an ethnographic study of ethnicity and social relations, the social meaning of ‘the gang’ inside prison is interrogated. A formally organized gang presence was categorically denied by prisoners. However, the term ‘gang’ was sometimes elided with loose collectives of prisoners who find mutual support in prison based on a neighbourhood territorial identification. Gangs were also discussed as racialized groups, most often symbolized in the motif of the ‘Muslim gang’. This racializing discourse hinted at an envy of prisoner solidarity and cohesion which upsets the idea of a universal prisoner identity. The broader conceptual, empirical and political implications of these findings are considered.
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