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Gang Violence Front Page

Page history last edited by Richard Todd Stafford 10 years, 4 months ago

Addressing Gang Violence and Organized Crime





Our NCLC 203 section has decided to focus our research on the issue of gang violence and issue related to organized crime.  This wiki page will provide us a place to collect, analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information on this topic, building ultimately to a series of media interventions designed to address some aspect of the problems we uncover.  



Background and Pre-search Resources


This provides a place to share resources of general interest to the class on this topic while we all orient ourselves to the research process.



Citation Format Resources


During our first class period, we decided that we would use MLA format for our citations.  Be sure to use correctly formatted citations in your sub-topic groups.   It is acceptable to use resources like EasyBib and CiteULike, but be sure to check the resulting citations against the style guide in your Norton Field Guide to Writing, the official MLA student handbook, or a reliable online source.  Below, I've provided links to two resources that are invaluable for creating correctly cited research

  1. The OWL at Purdue's Guide to MLA Formatting - This is the go-to resource for correctly citing materials on the web.  There are summaries of all major citation issues that face the researcher and example citations for most common media types.
  2. Zotero - While not fool-proof, the Zotero software is free and easy to use.  It automatically gathers citation information from websites, scholarly articles, and many other kinds of sources; from this, it can produce correct citations in every major citation style.  Additionally, it provides tools for collaboration, managing a large or complex archive of research materials, and sharing citations with your colleagues.  This software happens to be created by GMU's own Center for History and New Media, but is used by university students, researchers, and professors throughout the globe.  You will almost certainly want to familiarize yourself with this software, unless you are already a dedicated user of Evernote or Endnote.



Research Skills Information from Our Library


Many of you have contacted me to look at your work or to help you with the research process. Please remember that Bethlehem is available to consult with and that you can make appointments with research librarians to discuss your problems; oftentimes, you can just drop-in at the library to get your problems addressed. Before you do so, however, be sure that you have availed yourself of the resources the library has already prepared for you.


  1. Tutorials. The library has prepared a series of tutorials to help you with basic library skills.
    1. Infographic: Is my article popular or scholarly? 
    2. Interactive: How do I find the full text of an article if I only have a citation?
    3. Video: How do I figure out which database to use?
    4. Video: How do I search a database?
    5. Interactive: How do I search a database? 
    6. Video: What resources are available at the Mason libraries?
  2. Infoguides.  The library also maintains an extensive list of infoguide websites with overlapping information.
    1. Popular or Scholarly? Includes the popular vs. scholarly infographic above and a supplementary video
    2. Find Cited Works. Helps you find sources from citations or partial citations, find out whether/how frequently a source is cited, who is referencing a particular paper, etc.
    3. Newspaper Collections. Introduces the library's extensive newspaper collections and news databases.





In order to best examine the complex issues around gangs and organized crime, we have organized into five sub-topic working groups.  Each working group will develop an annotated bibliography on their assigned subtopic, then as a larger group we will attempt to synthesize this information into an understanding of gang violence and organized crime that acknowledges the diversity of perspectives that exist on this topic.  Ultimately, these annotated bibliographies will inform our media interventions.


  1. Group A: Mass media portrayals and glorification of gangs and similar criminal organizations
  2. Group B: Gangs (and similar criminal organizations) and the drug trade
  3. Group C: Weapons trafficking by gangs and similar criminal organizations
  4. Group D: Prevention strategies for gang-related violence
  5. Group E: Gangs (and similar criminal organizations) and the US prison system



Example Media Interventions


This is a place for us to collect examples of media interventions that we think might be inspirational for our groups -- either what might be good to do, or cautionary tales about what not to do!



Meth Project: http://www.methproject.org/

History of the Arab Spring Protests interactive timeline: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2011/mar/22/middle-east-protest-interactive-timeline

Human Cost of Coal interactive map: http://ilovemountains.org/the-human-cost




Check out this infographic about how sitting is killing you: http://www.medicalbillingandcoding.org/sitting-kills/

A collection of exceptional infographics: http://pinterest.com/mashable/infographics/


Interactive Videos

Here's the interactive condom YouTube maze I mentioned in class: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6KjA7FVoBo


Video PSAs

New Zealand Anti-drunk-driving Ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIYvD9DI1ZA

This is your brain on drugs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nl5gBJGnaXs

Extremely gross workplace saftey PSA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1Z8xxWhh5k

Very depressing UN Landmine Removal Advertisement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXVCYQ1qix8

Depressing Children do as Parents Do PSA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dO-IjmZae2I


Unsorted Sources


This is a place to put readings, media artifacts, and links to sources that are of general interest to our research in this class, or which are of likely interest to some subtopic group other than your own. If you are able to give a one to two sentence description of the resource, that would probably make this a somewhat more useful part of the wiki.


Altheide, David L. and R. Sam Michalowski. "Fear in the News: A Discourse of Control." Sociological Quarterly 40.3 (Summer 1999): 475-503. JSTOR. Web. 01 Feb 2013.

Provides a counter-point to the idea that raising awareness of gangs is a good thing to do, suggesting that foregrounding "fear" has negative effects for society, especially when those things we are taught to "fear" are not considered from a standpoint of rational evaluation of risk and harm to our communities.


Coughlin, Brenda C. and Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh.  "The Urban Street Gang after 1970." Annual Review of Sociology 29 (2003): 41-64. JSTOR. Web. 05 Feb 2013.

A summary of sociological research into street gangs from 1970-2002.


Densley, James A. "Street Gang Recruitment: Signalling, Screening, and Selection." Social Problems 59:3 (August 2012): 301-321. JSTOR. Web. 05 Feb 2013.

Examines the question why some people become gang members while others do not, even when there are otherwise similar factors in their lives.


Gunckel, Colin. "'Gangs Gone Wild': Low-Budget Gang Documentaries and the Aesthetics of Exploitation." Velvet Light Trap 60 (Fall 2007): 37-46. Project Muse. Web. 05 Feb 2013.

Examines the phenomenon of documentary films examining gang culture and how these films enact exploitative relationships to their subject matter.  A good counter-case to the prevalent glorification of gangs in the media.


Herd, Denise. "Changing Images of Violence in Rap Music Lyrics: 1979-1997." Journal of Public Health Policy 30:4 (Dec 2009): 395-406.  JSTOR. Web. 05 Feb 2013.

Mentions the changing role of gang in the portrayal of violence in hip hop music during the first two decades of widespread popularity of this art form.


Lane, Jodi and James M Meeker. "Fear of Gang Crime: A Look at Three Theoretical Models." Law and Society Review 37:2 (Jun 2003): 425-456. JSTOR. Web. 05 Feb 2013.


Meehan, Albert J. "The Organizational Career of Gang Statistics: The Politics of Policing Gangs." Sociological Quarterly 41.3 (Summer 2000): 337-370. JSTOR. Web. 01 Feb 2013.

A very interesting account of how hard criminology statistics about gangs that seem completely objective are actually socially constructed within the context of interactions between police, the policed, political power, and and the institutional apparatus of law enforcement.  


Mills, Martin and Amanda Keddie. "Cultural Reductionism and the Media: Polarizing Discourses Around Schools, Violence and Masculinity in an Age of Terror." Oxford Review of Education 36:4 (August 2010): 427-444.  Academic Search Complete. Web. 01 Feb 2013.

Discusses how masculinity and demands for integration underpin the ways that riots, gangs, and school violence are discussed in Australian media, suggesting critiques of common media frames that we may be able to apply to some circumstance in the US.


Rollwagen, Heather and Daniel Beland. "Responding to Calgary's Gang War: A political sociology of criminological ideas." Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice 54:2 (April 2012): 141-168. Project Muse. Web. 05 Feb 2013.

Offers a content analysis and a political sociological account (similar to a discourse analysis) of the representation of gang violence in Calgary. 


Teo, Peter. "Racism in the News: A Critical Discourse Analysis of News Reporting in Two Australian Newspapers." Discourse and Society 11:7  (2000): 7-49.  SagePub. Web. 01 Feb 2013.

An excellent examination of how the method of critical discourse analysis can reveal the way that news media construct gang violence in racist terms; uses examples from Australian media, but may provide insights into media constructions in the US.


Vigil, James Diego. "Chicano Gangs: One Response to Mexican Urban Adaptation in the Los Angeles Area." Urban Anthropology 12.1 (Spring 1983): 45-75. JSTOR. Web. 01 Feb 2013. 

Though quite outdated, Vigil's account does offer an account of how ethnic gangs form in relation to social pressures that is quite interesting.


Walker-Barnes, Chanequa J. and Craig A. Mason "Ethnic Differences in the Effect of Parenting on Gang Involvement and Gang Delinquency: A Longitudinal, Hierarchical Linear-Modeling Perspective."  Child Development 72:6 (December 2001): 1814-1831. JSTOR. Web. 05 Feb 2013.

Here's one for the positivists out there: what kind of parenting styles lead people to join gangs?  And, are the ethnic differences in how differences in parenting styles correlate with gang involvement?


Welch, Michael, Melissa Fenwick, and Meredith Roberts. "State Managers, Intellectuals, and the Media: A content analysis of ideology in experts quotes in feature newspaper articles on crime." Justice Quarterly 15:2 (Jun 1998): 219-241. ProQuest Criminal Justice. Web. 05 Feb 2013.

A content analysis of how experts talk about crime in news media.  Mentions the differences in the ways that gangs are represented by professors and by state authorities in communications with the news media.


Theoretical Terminology


This area provides a location for us to collaboratively develop working definitions for the key theoretical concepts for this class; these concepts will facilitate critical examinations of the sources on which we draw for the annotated bibliography.


1.0: Psychological Approaches to the question "How do we know?"


  1. heuristic - (Kahneman)
  2. system 1/system 2 - (Kahneman)- system 1 is fast thinking or a.k.a. intuition while system 2 is more analyzation. 
  3. remembering self/experiencing self - (Kahneman)
  4. priming - (Kahneman)
  5. reciprocal association - (Kahneman)
  6. peak-end - (Kahneman)


1.1: Philosophical Approaches to the question "How do we know?"


  1. epistemology - (Stafford)- The Knowing of knowing, The study of knowledge
  2. intertextuality - (Barthes via Stafford)- "The interrelationship between texts, especially works of literature; the way that similar or related texts influence,  reflect, or differ from each other."


1.2: Ways of Knowing


  1. ideology - (Lye; Sturken and Cartwright) the method or idea of how a state, or anything should run.
  2. ideological state apparatus - (Althusser via Lye)
  3. hegemony - (Gramsci via Lye)
  4. positivism - (Sturken and Cartwright) the belief that knowledge can only be created through controlled study and management of known facts
  5. social constructionism - (Sturken and Cartwright)
  6. mimesis - (Sturken and Cartwright)
  7. myth of photographic truth - (Sturken and Cartwright)
  8. Halo Effect - (Kahneman) The tendency for an impression created in one area to influence opinion in another area


2.1: Being Informed by the News Media: A Very Brief Introduction to Media Studies


  1. Agenda Setting - (McCombs and Shaw via Scheufele and Tewksbury)
  2. Priming - (S and T; Kahneman)
  3. Framing - (S and T)
  4. Spiral of Silence - (Noelle-Neumann)- The theory that popular opinions are more favored while the minorities are silenced.
  5. Two-step flow - (Lazarsfeld via Katz) - passing on of information from a highly informed individual to the uninformed.
  6. Sourcing - (Herman and Chomsky)
  7. Political Economic models of the media - (Herman and Chomsky)
  8. Access bias - (Gladstone)
  9. Fairness bias - (Gladstone)
  10. Commercial Bias - (Gladstone) A lack of interest for what is not unusual as well as a deeper interest in what is unusual
  11. Bad news bias - (Gladstone) Where negativity is emphasized the most to make the world look more dangerous than it really is.
  12. Status quo bias - (Gladstone) An overall preference for things to stay the same and to ignore any proposals for change 
  13. Access bias - (Gladstone)
  14. Visual bias - (Gladstone)- A bias where certain picture can be manipulated to be perceived as such.
  15. Narrative bias - (Gladstone)
  16. Fairness bias - (Gladstone)
  17. The Goldilocks Number - (Gladstone)
  18. Public Sphere - (Habermas)


2.3: Being Informed by the News Media: Newseum

  1. affect - (1) Affects are states of mind and body related to feelings or emotions; we brought this concept up in relation to the way that the feelings that a photograph creates help us remember the events represented in a different way than the more "brainy" response we might have to a news article about the same event. (2) Qtd from Wikipedia: "Affect refers to the experience of feeling or emotion. Affect is a key part of the process of an organisms interaction with stimuli"
  2. cognitive/feeling - (1) Refers to the difference between our thinking self and our feeling self; action depends on coordinating these two selves, but sometimes one or the other can predominate. 


3.1: Principles and Practices of Social Science

  1. method - range of techniques that are available to us to collect evidence about the social world (Henn, Weinstein, and Foard)
  2. methodology - research strategy as a whole, "the political, theoretical, and philosophical implications of making choices of method when doing research" (Henn, Weinstein, and Foard)
  3. positivist paradigm - (Henn, Weinstein, and Foard)
  4. interpretive paradigm - (Henn, Weinstein, and Foard)
  5. paradigm - A cluster of beliefs; An assumption by researchers about how the research should be done. (Ex: what should be studied, how research should be done, and how the results should be interpreted. (Henn, Weinstein, and Foard)
  6. ontology - (Henn, Weinstein, and Foard)
  7. falsification - (Popper via Henn, Weinstein, and Foard)
  8. critical social research - (Henn, Weinstein, and Foard)
  9. triangulation - (Henn, Weinstein, and Foard)
  10. literature review - (Schutt)
  11. rational choice theory - (Schutt)
  12. conflict theory - (Schutt)
  13. symbolic interaction theory - (Schutt)
  14. deductive research - (Schutt)
  15. inductive research - (Schutt)
  16. independent variable - variable in an experiment that is manipulated by the experimenter. (Schutt)
  17. dependent variable - represents the measurable response or behavior of the subjects in the experiment. (Schutt)
  18. hypothesis testing - (Schutt)
  19. research question - (Schutt)
  20. direction of association - (Schutt)
  21. replications - (Schutt)
  22. exploratory research - (Schutt)
  23. descriptive research - (Schutt)
  24. measurement validity - (Schutt)
  25. sample generalizability - (Schutt)
  26. external validity (AKA cross-population generalizability) - findings about one group , population, or setting hold true for other groups, population, or settings (Schutt)
  27. internal validity (AKA causal validity) - conclusion that A leads to or results in B is correct (Schutt)
  28. authenticity - (Schutt)


3.2: Social Science Research Methods

  1. Critical Discourse Analysis - (Fairclough via Teo and Stafford) 
  2. rhetorical analysis - (Stafford)
  3. Dramatistic Pentad - (Stafford)
  4. rhetorical triangle - (Stafford)
  5. ethnography - (Carter) emerging oneself into a culture, Qualitative research of human culture
  6. case study - an in-depth study of one individual. (Carter)
  7. content analysis - (Neilson)



Introduction to Using PBWorks Wiki


PBWorks wikis offer us three advantages, as scholars, creators and communicators:

  • First, when the seminar as a whole shares a collaborative wiki, we can brainstorm ideas, share our expertise, and learn from each other, wherever we happen to be.
  • Second, when you, as a communicator, compose in a wiki, you can create so much more than sentences and paragraphs. You can integrate images, video, graphics and images into your creations. You can link to internet-based assignments resources, articles you want to share with your groups or with me, videos you have posted on YouTube, and image collections to which you contributed, and so on. You can integrate compelling evidence to every argument you need to make. In addition, you create a permanent record of your thinking, your research, your analyses and syntheses, and your public communications which you can share with others.
  • Third, a wiki saves every single edit on every single version of every single page users create. Thus, if you accidentally delete the exhaustive list of evidence your colleague just posted, you can retrieve it. if you have revised a part of your group project, and deleted a section that, two weeks later, you want to include in a different part of the project, you can retrieve it. If you want to show how thoroughly you have revised an assignment, you can show your teachers all the different drafts you created.



Collaboration across time and space, multimedia authoring, always-on data retrieval, and free: you can see why wikis are so productive for small business, education and particularly for non-profit work and community action.


Start creating......using the basic guidance below if you are unfamiliar with wiki composition



At the Beginning


If you are new to wikis and/or PBWorks, or just need a refresher, the following link should help:



And make sure you read carefully this guide to successful collaboration and composition in a wiki:





I've highlighted just a few of the many helpful screens from the PBWorks manual.





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