Revisiting Roxbury: Crime Gang Membership and the Life Course

Project: Research project

Project Details


Revisiting Roxbury: Crime Gang Membership and the Life Course Revisiting Roxbury Crime Gang Membership and Life Course Understanding role exits is a critical part of understanding social life. As individuals move across the life course, they move from one role to another. Indeed, an understanding of the life course is based on an assessment of the movement from adolescence to maturity. The consequences of those role exits may exert considerable influence on future roles, behaviors, and life trajectories. These roles interact with proximate social groups school peers, neighbors, and in some cases, gangs. Understanding how and why individuals join and separate from those groups, as well as the impact of leaving these groups is a key to understanding social behavior. Social organization is found in a variety of spheres of social life: kinship, work, social pursuits, and neighborhoods for example. Whether groups are held together by a symbolic or instrumental purpose, they are a central feature of human existence. Groups vary in motive and purpose; some are conventional and legitimate, others are unconventional and deviant. Some groups move back and forth between the two ends of the continuum. Thus, leaving these groups may exert differing effects for individuals. The role of desistance from crime groups is poorly understood. Gangs are a particularly important example of a crime group with implications for its members. There is growing interest in understanding desistance from gangs in the academic community (i.e. Pyrooz, Decker,& Webb, 2010; Pyrooz& Decker, 2012). To further understand this phenomenon, as well as the long term consequences of gang desistance, the PIs propose multiple lines of analysis. The first involves collecting and analyzing criminal records of 532 gang-involved individuals from the 1950s (Miller, 1957, 1958, 2011) to examine in more detail findings about life course criminology (e.g. Laub& Sampson, 2003). Second, follow-up interviews will be conducted with these former gang members, to understand how joining and leaving the gang influenced future behaviors such as marriage, educational attainment, employment, and criminal histories. Third, contact cards detailing gang interaction will be analyzed to explore how social contexts also contribute to these behaviors. We hypothesize that gang desistance will co-occur with other significant life events such as marriage, but also that distinct processes will be present for men and women, whites and Blacks.
Effective start/end date9/1/128/31/16


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $350,000.00


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