Understanding European Gangs

Frank Van Gemert*, Frank M. Weerman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

8 Citations (Scopus)


The study of gangs in the United States has a long history dating back to the works of Riis, Puffer, and Thrasher. This chapter compares the United States to Europe, mostly in broad terms. First, it examines if there are gangs outside the United States, if they engage in criminal activities, and what group characteristics they have. Next, the chapter turns to gang theory and highlights central themes that may or may not apply to the European situation. It then describes the gang phenomenon in the Netherlands as an example carrying specific traits because of historical influences and its context in society. The chapter suggests that the study of gangs does not only require definitions and instruments, but also a broader comparative theoretical framework. Qualitative and quantitative studies show that European gangs are generally less organized and structured than their American counterparts and make less use of symbols and colors.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Gangs
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781118726822
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.


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