Department of Sociology
Diasporic Youth Gang Culture of Sri Lankan Tamils in South East England
My study proposes to understand the Diasporic youth gang culture of Sri Lankan Tamils in England, which forms a relatively new socio-cultural reality. Existing literature, both classical and contemporary sheds considerable light on the issues of migration, formation of new socio-cultural groups in new destinations which immigrants adopt as their homes, and the formation of peer groups such as street gangs. On the other hand even though there are a few studies that look at the formation of Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in Europe since the 1980s, none of them specifically focus on youth. In the context of this absence, the present study is formulated as a case study done in a micro-social setting: a gang in one area of Tamil settlement, the New Town in Southeast England. Methodologically, a qualitative approach has been adopted and interviews were conducted with Sri Lankan Tamil respondents with the aim of discovering how they define the gang culture surrounding them. The interviews mainly focused on whether the Sri Lankan considered the gang culture to be a negative social issue, and if so, what their recommendations towards controlling it might be.
Drawing from Cloward and Ohlin’s perspective, the study examines three different levels of gang sub-culture: criminal, conflict and retreatist. It is then combined with the observed findings. The analysis reveals that the theoretical strands can be effectively combined to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the formation of Tamil Youth gang culture in South east England. The conclusion shows that the gang culture among Tamil Youth is a socio-cultural and political issue, which needs cautious sociological understanding, and certain realistic remedial action taking into serious account the context of culture.
Mr. Antony is currently a doctoral student who has been a lecturer at the University of Jaffna since 2000. His M.Sc. in Sociology at the University of Surrey was "Diasporic Youth Gang Culture: An Ethnographic study of Sri Lankan Tamil Youth living in South East England". He was a team member of the "Group Research Project" focused on Peoples Perceptions on the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) in Guildford Town Centre (England 2004). He has recently published a sociological reader in Tamil, Social Phenomena: Theories and Applications, Part-I (2006).