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date: 09 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This essay synthesizes qualitative and quantitative research on sex, gender, and street gangs, following a developmental progression and, whenever appropriate, including international and otherwise culturally diverse research. It discusses historical and contemporary prevalence statistics and the factors that shape them. It reviews sex differences in risk factors for gang membership; reasons and methods for joining and leaving gangs; and gang members’ roles and activities, including violence involvement. The authors demonstrate that these experiences are structured by a gang’s sex composition, as well as gang members’ performances of masculinity. The essay also examines desistance from gangs and the long-term consequences of gang involvement. It concludes with recommendations for future research, specifically calling on gang scholars to include females in their studies for adequate comparisons by sex and gender and encouraging exploration into the roles of additional intersections such as race, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Keywords: gangs, sex composition, risk factors, desistance, masculinity, violence

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