Gangs, music and the mediatisation of crime: expressions, violations and validations

Craig Pinkney (School of Education and Community, University College Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
Shona Robinson-Edwards (Centre for Applied Criminology, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK)

Safer Communities

ISSN: 1757-8043

Publication date: 9 April 2018



The way in which criminologists understand, contextualise and theorise around the mediatised world has raised some critical new questions. The purpose of this paper is to report on qualitative research which looks at the ways in which some forms of social media are utilised by gang members. Gang research in the main is predicated on the notion that gangs are deviant products of social disorganisation; however, there is little written on the “specific” forms of expression used by those associated with gangs.


The lyrical content of three music videos has been analysed using narrative analysis.


Music videos have been used as a form of expression for decades. More recently in some cases they have been used as a tool to send threats, promote gang culture and flaunt illegal substances, which is fairly a new concept, in the UK at least. Social media and music videos are not the sole reason why there has been a rise in violence amongst young people; however, this paper aims to further explore some of these notions.


The authors suggest that this form of expression presents challenges in the understanding of gang activity in a mediatised world. The intention is not to further criminalise young people, but to seek understanding and explore the phenomenon of music videos and its position their gang research.



Pinkney, C. and Robinson-Edwards, S. (2018), "Gangs, music and the mediatisation of crime: expressions, violations and validations", Safer Communities, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 103-118.

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