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Who needs enemies with friends like these? The importance of place for young people living in known gang areas

Ralphs, Robert and Medina, Juanjo and Aldridge, Judith (2009) Who needs enemies with friends like these? The importance of place for young people living in known gang areas. Journal of Youth Studies, 12 (5). 483 - 500. ISSN 1469-9680

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Abstract

Despite a growing concern about gangs in Britain, academic research that focuses on gangs remains scarce. Drawing on data from the ESRC-funded ethnographic research YOGEC (Youth Gangs in an English City) project, this paper explores the negotiation of space and place by young people living in inner-city areas affected by gangs. Using a combination of fieldwork observations and focus group and interview data, this paper charts the experiences of non-gang-involved young people living in known gang areas. These young people's restricted use of space, arising as a result of gang rivalries and the policing of inner-city areas, results in exclusion, marginalization and victimization. We illustrate how young people are identified as 'high risk', and how they continually negotiate a range of risks bound up with the territory that they inhabit and subsequent spatial boundaries that are formed. In doing so, we provide an understanding of the lives of young people who reside in places and spaces inhabited by gangs.

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