This study draws from research on social capital and social network analysis to study the criminal careers of street gang members. The research question tested is whether access to greater social capital, by facilitating access to criminal opportunities, resources and skills, will be associated with criminal versatility. The social dynamics of street gangs and the fact that gang members have been found to be particularly active and versatile offenders provides an ideal framework to study this research question. Data on the criminal careers and social networks of gang members embedded in a large criminal network of 979 gang members and associates active from 2001 to 2008 in a large Canadian city are analyzed. Findings suggest that social capital is associated with criminal versatility. Furthermore, different social network structures in which social capital is embedded are important to understand involvement in offences requiring different skills and resources.
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Thesis advisor: Bouchard, Martin
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