"Gangsternet": Criminal and Routine Activities in Online Settings: Gangs, Offenders, and the Internet

Abstract

Crime and deviance reflect the dynamic nature of social life. The Internet has changed opportunities for crime and deviance, much as it has changed other aspects of social life. Accompanying the movement of offending and victimization to the Internet has been the expansion of deviant groups—including gangs—into online settings. Drawing from web-facilitated and web-enhanced classifications of online deviant behavior and identity, we extend the study of offending, gangs, and gang membership to online settings. Using data gathered in five cities from 585 respondents, including 418 current and former gang members, we study general online routine activities, online criminal and deviant behaviors, and gang-related online behaviors and processes. Based on our results, we arrive at three main conclusions: (1) gang members use the Internet and social networking sites as much, if not more, than their nongang counterparts, (2) gang members have a greater overall propensity for online crime and deviance than former and nongang respondents, based on our multivariate multi-level item response theory models, (3) the Internet is rarely used to further the instrumental goals of gangs, instead appealing to the symbolic needs of gangs and gang members. We conclude by discussing the conceptual and policy implications of these findings in relation to online activities of offenders and deviant groups.
 
Authors: David C. Pyrooz, Scott H. Decker & Richard K. Moule Jr.
 
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