The Urban Review

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 95–117 | Cite as

The contradictions of suppression: Notes from a study of approaches to gangs in three public high schools

  • David C. Brotherton


This article is based on data collected from two years of ethnographic gang research in three inner-city high schools. Two of the schools are situated in the same city on the West Coast, and the third is located on the East Coast. The aim of the research was to describe and analyze the range of responses of three secondary schools as they struggled to cope with the problem of youth gangs among their student populations. I argue that the common repertoire of suppression strategies used by the schools, although based on commonsense reactions to rising student violence, are futile responses to the problems of gangs and have antieducational “unintentional consequences” for the pursuance of a democratic public pedagogy.


High School West Coast East Coast Public Pedagogy Student Population 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ackley, N. (1993).Gangs in Schools: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do. Sacramento, CA: Peperdine University National School Safety Center.Google Scholar
  2. Acland, C. R. (1995).Youth, Murder, Spectacle: The Cultural Politics of “Youth in Crisis”. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  3. Adler, P. A., and Adler, P. (1987).Membership Roles in Field Research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  4. Anyon, J. (1995). Inner city school reform: Toward a useful theory.Urban Education 30(1): 56–70.Google Scholar
  5. Aronowitz, S., and Giroux, H. (1985).Education Under Siege: The Conservative, Liberal and Radical Debate over Schooling. South Hadley, MA: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar
  6. Becker, H. (1959).The Outsiders. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  7. Brotherton, D. (1994). Who do you claim? Gang formations and rivalry in an inner city high school. In J. Holstein and G. Miller (eds.),Perspectives on Social Problems, vol 5, pp. 147–171, 1994, Greenwich, CN: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  8. Butterfield, G. (1994). To mediate or not to mediate.School Safety (Fall): 15–17.Google Scholar
  9. Collins, R. (1979).The Credential Society. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  10. Corrigan, P. (1979).Schooling the “Smash Street Kids” London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  11. Cremin, L. (1988).American Education: The Metropolitan Experience 1876–1980. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  12. Davis, M. (1990).City of Quartz. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  13. Denzin, N. (1989).The Research Act. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  14. Deutsch, M. (1993). Conflict resolution and cooperative learning in an alternative high school.Cooperative Learning (13)4:2–5Google Scholar
  15. Devine, J. (1995). Can metal detectors replace the panopticon?Cultural Anthropology 10(2): 171–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fine, M. (1991).Framing Dropouts. New York: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  17. Fishman, M. (1978). Crime waves as ideology.Social Problems 25: 531–543.Google Scholar
  18. Fontana, A., and Frey, J. (1994). Interviewing: The art of science. In N. K. Denzin, and Y. S. Lincoln (eds.),Handbook of Qualtitative Research. New York: Sage.Google Scholar
  19. Foucault, M. (1977).Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  20. Gardner, H. (1987) Beyond special education.Harvard Education Review 57(4): 367–395.Google Scholar
  21. Giroux, H. (1992).Border Crossings. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Goffman, E. (1963).Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  23. Goldstein, A. P., and Glick, B. (1994).The Prosocial Gang: Impelementing Aggression Replacement Training. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  24. Gouldner, A. (1970).The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  25. Herbert, B. (1995). “Disgracing the badge”. New York Times, September 18, A. 15.Google Scholar
  26. Huff, C. R. (1993). Gangs in the United States. In C. R. Huff and A. P. Goldstein (eds.),The Gang Intervention Handbook. Champaign, IL: Research Press.Google Scholar
  27. Hunt, G. (1994).What Is Ethnography? Unpublished Manuscript, Institute for Scientific Analysis, Alameda, CA.Google Scholar
  28. Hutchison, R., and Kyle, C. (1993). Hispanic street gangs in Chicago's public schools. In S. Cummings and D. J. Monti (eds.),Gangs: The Origins and Impact of Contemporary Youth Gangs in the United States. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  29. Jackson, P., and Rudman, C. (1993). Moral panic and the response to gangs in California. In S. Cummings and D. J. Monti (eds.),Gangs: The Origins and Impact of Contemporary Youth Gangs in the United States. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  30. Jameson, F. (1991).Postmodernism and the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. London: New Left Books.Google Scholar
  31. Kelly, D. H. (1978).How the School Manufactures Misfits. South Pasadena, CA: Newcal Publications.Google Scholar
  32. Klein, M. (1995).The American Street Gang: Its Nature, Prevalence and Control. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Laclau, E., and Mouffe, C. (1985).Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  34. McNeil, L. M. (1983). Defensive teaching and classroom control. M. W. Apple and L. Weis (eds.),Ideology and Practive in Schooling. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Monti, D. (1994).Wannabe: Gangs in Suburbs and Schools. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  36. Noguera, P. (1995). Preventing and producing violence: A critical analysis of responses to school violence.Harvard Educational Review 65(2): 189–212.Google Scholar
  37. Oakes, J. (1985).Keeping Track: How High Schools Structure Inequality. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Oakes, J. (1992). Grouping students for instruction. In M. C. Alkin (ed.),Encyclopedia of Educational Research (6th ed., pp. 562–568). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  39. Ogbu, J. (1974).The Next Generation: An Ethnography of Education in an Urban Neighborhood. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  40. Ogbu, J. (1994). Racial stratification and education in the United States: Why inequality persists.Teachers College Record 96(2): 264–298.Google Scholar
  41. Parsons, T. (1959). The school as a social system: Some of its functions in American society.Harvard Educational Review 29: 297–318.Google Scholar
  42. Pfohl, S. (1985).Images of Deviance and Social Control: A Sociological History. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  43. Pink, W. T. (1984). Schools, youth, and justice.Crime and Delinquency 30: 439–461.Google Scholar
  44. Polk, K. (1969). Class, strain and rebellion among adolescents.Social Problems 17: 214–223.Google Scholar
  45. Polk, K., and Schafer, W. (eds.). (1972).Schools and Delinquency. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  46. Rist, R. (1977).The Urban School: A Factory for Failure. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  47. Simon, R. I. (1992).Teaching Against the Grain. A Pedagogy of Possibility. Westport, CN: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar
  48. Slavin, R. E. (1989). Students at risk of school failure: The problem and its dimensions. In R. E. Slavin, N. L. Karweit, and N. A. Madden (eds.),Effective Programs for Students At-Risk (pp. 3–17). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  49. Spergel, I. (1990). Youth gangs: Continuity and change. In M. Tonry and N. Morris (eds.),Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, Vol. 12, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  50. Stephens, R. D. (1989). Gangs, guns and drugs.School Safety (Fall): p. 16.Google Scholar
  51. Sykes, G. M., & Matza, D. (1957). Techniques of neutralization: A theory of delinquency.American Sociological Review 22: 664–670.Google Scholar
  52. Toby, J. (1983). Schools and violence. In M. Tonry and N. Morris (eds.),Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, Vol 12. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  53. Toby, J. (1994). Everyday school violence: How disorder fuels it.American Educator 17(4): 4–10.Google Scholar
  54. U.S. Department of Justice. (1991).Gangs in School Crime: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report. Washington, DC: Bastian, Lisa D. & Bruce M. Taylor.Google Scholar
  55. Waller, W. (1932).The Sociology of Teaching. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  56. Werthman, C. (1967). The function of social definitions in the development of delinquent careers.President's Task Force Report on Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime. Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  57. Zatz, M. (1987). Chicano youth gangs and crime: The creation of a moral panic.Contemporary Crises 11: 129–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • David C. Brotherton
    • 1
  1. 1.Sociology DepartmentJohn Jay College of Criminal JusticeNew York

Personalised recommendations