Reason for two definitions. The operational definition of what constitutes a gang is one of the major debates in research on gangs. Both sides in the debate agree that gangs are groups and are recognized as such by their members and those outside the group. The controversy is over whether the definition of gangs should include participation in delinquent or criminal behavior as part of the definition. Among senior gang researchers, James F. Short and Joan Moore are among those favoring the exclusion of delinquency criteria from the definition of a gang. They argue that discussions of the relationship between gangs and delinquency become tautological when the definition of gang requires such a relationship. On the other hand, a larger number of researchers, including Walter Miller, Malcolm Klein, and Irving Spergel, argue that the exclusion of delinquent or antisocial behavior from the definition of gang diffuses any study of the phenomenon beyond practicality. Since this definitional issue is far from resolved, one of each kind of definition is offered.
ASJC Scopus subject areas