Gangs: Spatialities and Socialities in South Africa
Keywords:gangs, crime, violence, identity, masculinity
The “making” of gang relationships has remained at the periphery of research, yet it is critical in understanding the continuity and sustainability of gangsterism in different contexts. This paper examines the ways in which young men involved in gang violence forge and sustain their relationships in the streets of a black township in South Africa. I argue that the “making” of gang relationships is never easy; rather, it is characterised by violence within and outside gang membership. The article asserts that, within gangs, violence is a technique which sustains their relationships, as it acts as a source of social and emotional support—especially in a context characterised by fractured families as well as social and economic marginalisation. The paper draws from an ethnography of walking the township streets, being in gang streets, talking to gang members, engaging with and observing young men involved in gang violence.
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