Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Human and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Lauren Eisler

Advisor Role



Much of what people learn outside their neighbourhoods and personal boundaries is through mass media. As such, it is not surprising that the media has potential to significantly influence public perceptions (Bourke, 2013). Due to the media’s profuse ability to influence public perceptions and the frequency in which gangs are depicted within the media, it is important to understand how they are portrayed. Involvement in a gang is depicted in the media as being intriguing for individuals, and as Preston et al. (2012), note that the media is often inclined to sensationalize criminal gang activity. They cite Gordon’s 2001 research which proposes that gangs often benefit from media focus to glamorize gang memberships, increasing perceptions of recognition and power within specific communities (Preston et al., 2012). Although the media glorifies gang involvement, this is most often not the reality. Additionally, the issue of fake news is a recurring issue when looking at the accuracy of the media, particularly when it comes to the portrayal of youth gangs. The theory of the Social Construction of Social Problems is used to direct this research to determine the accuracy of the media representation of youth gangs. This study fills the gaps in the minimal research that has been completed on this topic, and its findings confirm that the media does not truly portray the true accuracy of youth gangs overall. Furthermore, it was found that films portray youth gangs as social problems in society; although they accurately depicted the events that occurred during the time the film was made, they did not correctly illustrate gangs, gang activity, and gang members within society.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season