Date of Conferral

2017

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Human Services

Advisor

Barbara Benoliel

Abstract

Abstract

Gang violence is a social concern because of the risks of victimization among gang members and their communities. Many gang members have been victims of gang violence, and some choose to remain involved with their gang even after being victimized. Researchers have explored why people join gangs, but less is known regarding the gangâ??victimization link, which is the focus of this study. Social bond theory guided the study's research question on the motivation of gang members to rejoin their gang after severe physical victimization. A multiple case study design was employed with a purposeful sample of six English-speaking men, ages 20â??50 years, who identified as current or former gang members and who experienced severe physical victimization in the gang. Semistructured interviews were conducted to gain a better understanding of study participants' motivation for returning to their gangs after severe physical victimization. Thematic content analysis was employed to identify patterns and emerging themes in the data. Key findings were that behaviors and beliefs of gang violence victims are similar to those of domestic violence victims, and the importance of the bond among members is greater than the importance of the victimization. The study findings and implications are far reaching as this knowledge can serve as the staging point for interventions by social work practitioners, policy makers, and activists as they seek to develop effective programs for gang members. Study results contribute to positive social change by providing a better understanding of gang members' thinking and motivation and helping to inform efforts to discourage gang members from returning to gang life.

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