Gangs, Sectarianism and Social Capital: A Qualitative Study of Young People in Scotland

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32 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, there has been continuing debate about the extent and significance of sectarianism in Scotland and the wider links with territorial gang culture. This article focuses on a small qualitative study conducted in some of the most deprived urban communities in Glasgow. Semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with 10 youth workers and 40 young persons (aged 16-18 years), with follow-up interviews conducted with senior operational police officers. Social capital indicators generated by recent research were used as a lens through which to explore the participant responses. The findings suggest that the combined social forces associated with territoriality and intense football rivalry limit the young people's potential for maximizing social capital. However, the extent to which these issues can be fully ascribed to the continued existence of sectarianism in Scotland is less clear. The article concludes with some implications for further sociological debate around these issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-30
JournalSociology - The Journal of the British Sociological Association
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


  • sectarianism
  • social capital
  • territoriality
  • youth


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