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Israeli and US Gangs in the Virtual World: The Sociocultural Context of Gang Members’ Online Activity

Abstract

The Internet has opened up new opportunities for crime and deviance. Although there is growing interest in gang activity on the web, there is a lack of systematic and comparative evidence about online gang activities. This chapter examines the differences and similarities in online behavior and criminal activity between gang members in the USA and Israel. Drawing on routine activity theory, the study examines the role of online activities (e.g. hours spent online, YouTube use, social network use) and online gang-related activities (e.g., gangs have websites, organize and recruit online, view the web as important) in online offending and deviance. Data were collected through face-to-face interviews with 136 current gang members in the USA and 57 gang members in Israel. Findings indicate that there are differences in online activities of gang members and gangs across countries, although levels of offending are largely similar. Furthermore, the analyses reveal that online routines were positively related to online offending of gang members in the USA, while only technological ability was significantly related to offending in Israel. We discuss these findings in the context of existing research on gangs and the web, offer directions for future research, and suggest some response strategies.

Keywords

  • The Internet
  • Gangs
  • Routine activities theory
  • Crime and deviance
  • Israel
  • United States

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Examination of the differences between the 2 years of the Israeli sample shows that patterns of Internet usage and technological skills were mostly similar and no problem was found to pool them together.

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Sela-Shayovitz, R., Pyrooz, D.C., Decker, S.H. (2016). Israeli and US Gangs in the Virtual World: The Sociocultural Context of Gang Members’ Online Activity. In: Maxson, C., Esbensen, FA. (eds) Gang Transitions and Transformations in an International Context. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-29602-9_7

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