Gang violence is on the increase in certain neighbourhoods. There is an urgent need for a fresh perspective that offers insight into gang structure, organisation and offending behaviour to explain this increase.
Using the findings from an extensive ethnographic study of local residents, professionals and gang members in south London, and drawing on his vast experience and knowledge of the field, Simon Harding proposes a unique theoretical perspective on survival in violent street gangs. He applies Bourdieu’s principles of social field analysis and habitus to gangs, establishing them as a social arena of competition where actors struggle for distinction and survival, striving to become ‘players in the game’ in the ‘casino of life’. Success is determined by accruing and retaining playing chips – street capital.
Harding’s dramatic and compelling insights depict gang life as one of constant flux, where players jostle for position, reputation, status and distinction. This perspective offers new evidence to the field that will help academics, students, practitioners and policy makers to understand the dynamics of gang behaviour and the associated risks of violence and offending.
Simon Harding is currently a senior lecturer in criminology at Middlesex University, UK. He draws on 25 years of experience in research, public policy and project delivery as a crime reduction and community safety practitioner.
"Accessible, current and highly engaging." Criminal Law and Justice Review
"Provides a highly explanatory theoretical account which is both accessible and relevant" - Podacademy
"Theoretically rich and thought-provoking, Simon Harding’s casino metaphor captures perfectly the addiction of street life. With clear implications for policy and practice, Street Casino is a winner—a true breakthrough in street gang research." James Densley, Metropolitan State University, USA
“An important book which takes our understanding of gang membership significantly forward. Harding suggests solutions for the young people who are involved in the damage caused by this phenomenon and makes a powerful case for why ignoring it is not an option.” Anthony Goodman, Middlesex University
“Simon Harding’s Street Casino marks an important advance in the discussion of violent youth gangs. It is therefore essential reading for anybody who is seriously interested in and concerned about the changing nature of youth crime in our cities.” John Pitts, Vauxhall Professor of Socio-legal Studies, University of Bedfordshire
The Game, the Stakes, the Rules - key concepts;
House Rules and Game Strategies;
Player, positions and keeping order;
Playing the Game – generating and keeping your chips;
Staying in the Game – and playing to win;
The Game in action – habitus, street capital and territory;
Learning the risks of the Game;
Surviving the Game;
Creating the House Advantage - the role of information;
Playing the Queen – gender in the gang;
The Wheel of Fortune – the sanctions repertoire;
The Street Casino.