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‘Squashing the Beef’: Combatting Gang Violence and Reforming Masculinity in East London

Armstrong, G. ORCID: 0000-0002-4155-0813 & Rosbrook-Thompson, J. (2017). ‘Squashing the Beef’: Combatting Gang Violence and Reforming Masculinity in East London. Contemporary Social Science, 12(3-4), pp. 285-296. doi: 10.1080/21582041.2017.1385833


The article draws on the findings of two years’ ethnographic fieldwork in exploring how gang activity in Newham, East London is combatted by faith-based organisation, Targeted Against Gangs (TAG). More specifically, the authors examine how TAG seeks to reform the identities of young male gang members according to the principles of what we have called ‘Pentecostal realist masculinity’. The characteristics of this reformed masculinity include an awareness of the racial (and racist) dynamics of criminal and wider society, a focus on individuals thriving within fraternal networks, and the desire to channel creative energies into legitimate entrepreneurial activities. Though this strategy did not mount a direct challenge to the racist societal structures it identified, it was effective in reducing levels of gang violence in East London.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way
Publisher Keywords: Ethnography; gangs; intervention; religion; violence
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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