Theorising Organised Crime, Gangs and Street Children’s Agency

  • Sally Atkinson-Sheppard
Part of the Palgrave Advances in Criminology and Criminal Justice in Asia book series (PACCJA)


This chapter develops a theoretical framework for the study. It begins by reviewing extant criminological theory regarding gangs and organised crime. It then moves on to discuss perspectives drawn from development studies and anthropology which consider street children and child labour. The chapter concludes by discussing the conceptual framework and three research propositions which guided the study and provide a structure for the rest of the book.


Organised crime Gangs Street children Southern criminology 


  1. Adolescent Development Foundation. (2008). UNCRC Alternative Report: Looking Through Adolescent Lens. Bangladesh: Adolescent Development Foundation.Google Scholar
  2. Albini, J. L. (1971). The American Mafia: Genesis of a Legend. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  3. Alcano, M. C. (2014). Youth Gangs and Streets in Surabaya, East Java: Growth, Movement and Spaces in the Context of Urban Transformation. Antropologia, 1, 33–58.Google Scholar
  4. Aldridge, J., & Medina, J. (2008). Youth Gangs in an English City: Social Exclusion, Drugs and Violence. Swindon: ESRC.Google Scholar
  5. Aptekar, L. (1988). Street Children of Cali. London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Aptekar, L., & Heinonen, P. (2003). Methodological Implications of Contextual Diversity in Research on Street Children. Children, Youth and Environments, 13, 1.Google Scholar
  7. Aptekar, L., & Stoecklin, D. (2014). Street Children and Homeless Youth: A Cross-cultural Perspective. London: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Awad, S. S. (2002). The Invisible Citizens Roaming the City Streets. Educational Review, 54(2), 105–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Beazley, H. (2003). The Construction and Protection of Individual and Collective Identities by Street Children and Youth in Indonesia. Children, Youth and Environments, 13(1). Available at:
  10. Blok, A. (1974). The Mafia of a Sicilian Village, 1860–1960: A Study of Violent Peasant Entrepreneurs. Cambridge: Waveland Press.Google Scholar
  11. Bourdillon, M. (2014, November 26). What Research Tells Us About Working Children. Paper Presented at ‘Supporting Working Children: International, National and Local Challenges and Successes’ Conference, London.Google Scholar
  12. Brown, D. K. (2002). The Determinants of Child Labour: Theory and Evidence. Discussion Paper No. 486. Research Seminar in International Economics. University of Michigan: School of Public Policy.Google Scholar
  13. Bullock, K., & Tilley, N. (2002). Shootings, Gangs and Violent Incidents in Manchester: Developing a Crime Reduction Strategy. Crime Reduction Research Series Paper No. 13. London: Home Office.Google Scholar
  14. Calderoni, F. (2014). Strategic Positioning in Mafia Networks. In C. Morselli (Ed.), Crime and Networks. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Campana, P. (2016). Explaining Criminal Networks: Strategies and Potential Pitfalls. Methodological Innovations, 9, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Carrington, K., Hogg, R., & Sozzo, M. (2016). Southern Criminology. British Journal of Criminology, 56(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Catanzaro, R. (1992). Men of Respect: A Social History of the Sicilian Mafia. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  18. Cockayne, J. (2016). Hidden Power: The Strategic Logic of Organized Crime. London: Hurst & Co.Google Scholar
  19. Conticini, A., & Hulme, D. (2006). Escaping Violence, Seeking Freedom: Why Children in Bangladesh Migrate to the Street. Programme for Research on Chronic Poverty in Bangladesh (PRCPB). Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) and Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC). University of Manchester: Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM).Google Scholar
  20. Cressey, D. R. (1967). Methodological Problems in the Study of Organized Crime as a Social Problem. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 374(1), 101–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Davies, A. (2011). Youth Gangs and Late Victorian Society. In B. Goldson (Ed.), Youth in Crisis? ‘Gangs’, Territoriality and Violence. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Decker, S. H., & Weerman, F. (2005). European Street Gangs and Troublesome Youth Groups: Findings from the Eurogang Research Program. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.Google Scholar
  23. Delap, E. (2001). Economic and Cultural Forces in the Child Labour Debate: Evidence from Urban Bangladesh. Journal of Development Studies, 37(4), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Densley, J. A. (2012). ‘It’s a Gang Life But Not As We Know It’: The Evolution of Gang Business. Crime and Delinquency, 60(4), 517–546.Google Scholar
  25. Ennew, J. (2003). Working with Street Children, Exploring Ways for ADB Assistance. [Online]. Asia Development Bank. Regional and Sustainable Development Department. Available at: Accessed 28 June 2013.
  26. Ennew, J., & Swart-Kruger, J. (2003). Introduction: Homes, Places and Spaces in the Construction of Street Children and Street Youth. Children, Youth and Environments, 13(1), 81–104.Google Scholar
  27. Esbensen, F. A., & Weerman, F. M. (2005). Youth Gangs and Troublesome Youth Groups in the United States and the Netherlands: A Cross-National Comparison. The European Journal of Criminology, 2, 5–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fionda, J. (2005). Devils and Angels: Youth Policy and Crime. Portland: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  29. Fraser, A., & Piacentini, T. (2014). We belong to Glasgow: The Third Space of Youth ‘Gangs’ and Asylum Seeker, Refugee and Migrant Groups. In C. Phillips & C. Webster (Eds.), New Directions in Race, Ethnicity and Crime. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Gambetta, D. (1993). The Sicilian Mafia. London: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Gunst, L. (1995). Born Fi Dead. Edinburgh: Payback Press.Google Scholar
  32. Hagedorn, J. M. (1990). Back in the Field Again: Gang Research in the 1990s. In C. R. Huff (Ed.), Gangs in America: Diffusion, Diversity and Public Policy. Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  33. Hagedorn, J. M. (2005). The Global Impact of Gangs. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 21, 153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hagedorn, J. M. (2007). Gangs, Institutions, Race and Space: The Chicago School Revisited. In J. M. Hagedorn (Ed.), Gangs in the Global City. Oxford: Marston Book Services.Google Scholar
  35. Hagedorn, J. M. (2008). A World of Gangs, Armed Young Men and Gangster Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  36. Hallsworth, S., & Young, T. (2006). Urban Collectives: Gangs and Other Groups. A Report Prepared for the Metropolitan Police Service and Government Office for London. London: Metropolitan Police Service.Google Scholar
  37. Hansson, D. (2003). ‘Strolling’ as a Gendered Experience: A Feminist Analysis of Young Females in Cape Town. Children, Youth and Environments, 13(1). Available at:
  38. Harris, D., Turner, R., Garrett, I., & Atkinson, S. (2012). Understanding the Psychology of Gang Violence: Implications for Designing Effective Violence Reduction Interventions. London: Ministry of Justice.Google Scholar
  39. Heinonen, P. (2011). Youth Gangs and Street Children: Culture, Nurture and Masculinity in Ethiopia. Social Identities (Vol. 7). Oxford: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  40. Hess, H. (1998). Mafia and Mafiosi: The Structure of Power. Westmead: Saxon House.Google Scholar
  41. Horschelmann, K., & van Blerk, L. (2012). Children, Youth and the City. Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Jankowski, M. S. (1991). Island in the Street: Gangs and American Urban Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  43. Jenson, S. (2006). Capetonian Back Streets: Territorializing Young Men. Ethnography, 7(3), 275–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Jones, G. A., Thomas de Benitez, S., & Herrera, E. (2008). ‘Being in Public’: The Multiple Childhoods of Mexican ‘Street’ Children. Identities and Social Action. London: Economic and Social Research Council.Google Scholar
  45. Khair, S. (2001). Street Children in Conflict with the Law: The Bangladesh Experience. The Asia-Pacific Journal of Human Rights and the Law, 1, 55–76.Google Scholar
  46. Klein, M. W. (2005). Introduction. In H. W. Decker & F. Weerman (Eds.), European Street Gangs and Troublesome Youth Groups. Oxford: AltaMira Press.Google Scholar
  47. Klein, M. W., Kerner, H., Maxson, C. L., Elmar, G. M., & Weitekamp, H. (2001). The Eurogang Paradox: Street Gangs and Youth Groups in the U.S. and Europe. Amsterdam: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Klein, M. W., Weerman, F. M., & Thornberry, T. P. (2006). Street Gang Violence in Europe. The European Journal of Criminology, 3, 413–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Levi, M. (2012). The Organization of Serious Crimes for Gain. In M. Maguire, R. Morgan, & R. Reiner (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Levitt, S. D., & Venkatesh, S. A. (2000). An Economic Analysis of a Drug Selling Gang’s Finances. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115, 755–789.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Luiz de Moura, S. (2002). The Social Construction of Street Children: Configuration and Implications. British Journal of Social Work, 32, 353–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Lupsha, P. A. (1983). Steps Toward a Strategic Analysis of Organized Crime. International Criminal Police Review, 47(4), 133–137.Google Scholar
  53. McIllwain, J. S. (1999). Organized Crime: A Social Network Approach. Crime, Law and Social Change, 32(4), 301–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. McIntosh, M. (1975). The Organisation of Crime. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  55. Moroccan Children’s Trust. (2010). A Different Path: Street and Working Children in Morocco. London: Moroccan Children’s Trust.Google Scholar
  56. Muncie, J., Hughes, G., & McLaughlin, E. (2002). Youth Justice: Critical Readings. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  57. Newburn, T. (2007). Criminology. Devon: Willan Publishing.Google Scholar
  58. Paoli, L. (2002). The Paradoxes of Organized Crime. Crime, Law & Social Change, 37(1), 51–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Park, R. E., Burgess, E. W., & McKenzie, R. D. (1925). The City: Suggestions for Investigation of Human Behaviour in the Urban Environment. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  60. Pitts, J. (2007). Reluctant Gangsters: Youth Gangs in Waltham Forest. London: Waltham Forest.Google Scholar
  61. Race on the Agenda (ROTA). (2011). ‘This is it, this is my life’. Female Voice in Violence. London: ROTA.Google Scholar
  62. Raghavan, V. (2011). Criminal gangs in Mumbai city, from Actor to Network Orientation. The Indian Journal of Social Work, 72(4), 635–652.Google Scholar
  63. Rodgers, D. (1999). Youth Gangs and Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Literature Survey. Latin America and Caribbean Region Sustainable Development Working Paper No. 4. Latin America and Caribbean Region Office: World Bank.Google Scholar
  64. Rodgers, D., & Baird, A. (2015). Understanding Gangs in Contemporary Latin America in. In S. Decker & D. C. Pyrooz (Eds.), Handbook of Gangs and Gangs Responses. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  65. Rogers, C. A., & Swinnerton, K. A. (2008). A Theory of Exploitative Child Labour. Oxford Economic Papers, 60, 20–41, 20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Ruwanpura, K. N., & Roncolato, L. (2006). Child Rights: An Enabling or Disabling Right? The Nexus between Child Labour and Poverty in Bangladesh. Journal of Developing Societies, 22, 359–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Salmon, C. (2005). Child Labour in Bangladesh: Are Children the Last Economic Resource in the Household? Journal of Developing Societies, 21, 33–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Schernthaner, M. (2011). Coming of Age on the Streets: An Exploration of the Livelihoods of Street Youth in Durban. [Online]. Paper Presented at the International RC21 Conference 2011. Session No. 30. Diversity and Space. Youth Geographies and Spatial Identities. Available at: Accessed 11 Dec 2014.
  69. Sergi, A., & Lavorgna, A. (2016). Ndrangheta: The Glocal Dimensions of the Most Powerful Italian Mafia. Palgrave Pivot Series. London/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  70. Shanahan, F. P. (2003). Streets versus Elites: Tensions, Trade-offs, and Treaties with Street Children in Accra, Ghana. Children, Youth and Environments, 13(1), 360–372.Google Scholar
  71. Smith, D. C. (1975). The Mafia Mystique. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  72. Southon, J., & Pralhad, D. (2003). A Life Without Basic Services: Street Children’s Say. London: Save the Children.Google Scholar
  73. The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. (2007). Child Recruitment in South-Asian Conflicts: Bangladesh. [Online]. London: Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. Available at: Accessed 16 Jan 2012.
  74. The International Labour Organisation (ILO). (1999). The Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (Convention 182). [Online]. ILO. Available at: Accessed 17 June 2012.
  75. The International Labour Organisation (ILO). (2006). Baseline Survey on Child Domestic Labour in Bangladesh. Dhaka: ILO.Google Scholar
  76. The International Labour Organisation (ILO). (2012). National Legislation and Policies against Child Labour in Bangladesh. [Online]. Available at: Accessed 5 May 2012.
  77. Thomas de Benitez, S. (2007). State of the World’s Street Children: Violence. Street Children Series. London: Consortium for Street Children (UK).Google Scholar
  78. Thomas de Benitez, S. (2011). State of the World’s Street Children: Research. Street Children Series. London: Consortium for Street Children (UK).Google Scholar
  79. Thrasher, F. M. (1927). The Gang. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  80. UNICEF. (1986). Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances. Available at: Accessed 16 Mar 2013.
  81. UNICEF. (2010). Child Labour in Bangladesh. Dhaka: UNICEF.Google Scholar
  82. van Blerk, L. (2005). Negotiating Spatial Identities: Mobile Perspectives on Street Life in Uganda. Children’s Geographies, 3(1), 5–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. van Blerk, L. (2012). Berg-en-See Street Boys: Merging Street and Family Relations in Cape Town, South Africa. Children’s Geographies, 10(3), 321–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. van Blerk, L. (2013). New Street Geographies: The Impact of Urban Governance on the Mobilities of Cape Town’s Street Youth. Urban Studies, 50(3), 556–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Varese, F. (2010). What is Organised Crime? In Organised Crime: Critical Concepts in Criminology (Vol. 1, pp. 1–33). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  86. Weiner, M. (1991). The Child and the State in India. New York: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  87. Weinstein, L. (2008). Mumbai's Development Mafias: Globalization, Organized Crime and Land Development. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 32, 22–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Wernham, M. (2004). An Outside Chance: Street Children and Juvenile Justice – An International Perspective. London: Consortium for Street Children.Google Scholar
  89. Wright, A. (2006). Organised Crime. Cullompton: Willan.Google Scholar
  90. Xia, M. (2009). The Chinese Underclass and Organized Crime as a Stepladder of Social Ascent. In S. K. Cheung, J. T. H. Lee, & L. V. Nedilshy (Eds.), Marginalization in China: Recasting Minority Politics. New York: Palgrave & Macmillan.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sally Atkinson-Sheppard
    • 1
  1. 1.King’s College London The Dickson Poon School of LawLondonUK

Personalised recommendations