Masters Thesis

Hardcore Crews: Friends, Crews or Street Gangs?

This study examines the criminal classifications state institutions apply to deviant subcultures and the ways the subculture of “hardcore crews” understand themselves considering these labels. Specifically, extant research largely examines hardcore crews through the lens of the “gang,” but the way in which members of hardcore crews understand and interpret their own behavior, attitudes, and group membership is missing. This thesis attends to this gap by centering its findings on the perspectives of hardcore crew members themselves. Drawing from seven in-depth interviews of crew members from the Southern California area, I employ a cultural criminological approach to argue that hardcore crew members reject the “gang” label imposed on them by law enforcement, popular media and academics. Rather, hardcore crews refer to themselves as a "brotherhood" of like-minded individuals who share a passion for the aggressive and, at times, violent hardcore scene. Ultimately, participants in this research contend they are not recruited, structured, nor do they hold overall objectives similar to street gangs as defined by police and academic authorities. Thus, this research points to a conflict between how hardcore crew members and state institutions conceptualize criminality.

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