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Gang Violence in the "Balance:" A Triadic Analysis of Rivalries and Allies
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posted on 26.04.2007by Kiminori Nakamura
The very existence and purpose of street gangs is predicated on having an external threat or enemy. It is also recognized that gangs form allies as well as rivals with other gangs. The fact that gangs are embedded in an intricate structure of both positive (ally) and negative (rivalry) relationships has rarely been explored in terms of understanding the levels and the patterns of gang violence. In this paper, we use structural balance theory along with its applications in the international relations literature to examine whether certain triadic structures in which two rival gangs i and j are related to a third gang with either an ally or rival relationship is linked to the levels of violence that i will inflict upon j. We analyze the data on inter-gang relations and violent incidents among the gangs in Long Beach, CA using multiple regression quadratic assignment procedure (MRQAP). Our results indicate that the actual violent incidents between two rival gangs are not only the product of their feuding relationships but also the third gangs and the nature of their relationship with the two gangs. The results can potentially contribute to the formulation of effective strategy to manage gang violence and allocate law enforcement resources to gang conflicts that are likely to escalate.