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A Comparative Study of Initial Involvement in Gangs and Political Extremism


There is a paucity of research comparing gang members and domestic extremists and extant studies find few explicit linkages. Despite this, there remains a great deal of interest in possible similarities between these criminal groups. Driving this interest is the possibility of adapting policies and practices aimed at preventing entry into criminal groups. A critical first step to determining compatibility is to examine the circumstances of the individuals who enter these organizations and better describe the entry processes. This study provides a unique comparison of entry into these groups by drawing on four broad empirically derived mechanisms of group entry using forty-five in-person interviews of U.S. gang members and thirty-eight life history narratives of individuals who radicalized in the United States. Our results reveal that each of the four conceptual categories appeared to influence initial involvement; however, no single mechanism described involvement in criminal groups or differentiated involvement across the gangs and extremist groups.

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Becker, Michael, Scott Decker, Gary LaFree, David Pyrooz, Kyle Ernest and Patrick James. 2020. "A Comparative Study of Initial Involvement in Gangs and Political Extremism." Terrorism and Political Violence (October). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09546553.2020.1828079

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