Counting Gangs: Conceptual and Validity Problems with the Eurogang Definition

  • Judith Aldridge
  • Juanjo Medina-Ariz
  • Robert Ralphs


In this chapter, we reflect on the utility of the Eurogang definition across a number of research projects in which it has been employed. We suggest that “street orientation” aspect of the definition might more properly be considered a descriptive—rather than defining—criterion, and raise validity concerns in relation to the key aspect of the Eurogang definition: that the group’s “involvement in illegal activity” is part of its “group identity.” In particular, using case studies, we describe three types of delinquent youth group that we argue should not be considered gangs, but which would be using the Eurogang definition. Finally, we raise for discussion and debate the possibility for an alternative definitional criterion: that gangs are groups with a reputation for violence or its threat, even if rarely enacted.


Young People Group Identity Public Place Illegal Drug Illegal Activity 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith Aldridge
    • 1
  • Juanjo Medina-Ariz
    • 1
  • Robert Ralphs
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice, School of LawUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.Department of SociologyManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK

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