Thematic Analysis

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Thematic Analysis: Articles on Girl Gangs
Gardiner Activities, week 3

Across both articles I identified three main themes. They are, in my view, presented in both articles, but with different emphases.

- paradox between girls as victims and girls as aggressors - the way gangs are positioned within wider society
- the relationship between males/females and violence

Paradox between girls as victims and girls as aggressors

In the Daily Mail article, there are several portrayals of girls as aggressors. This starts with the phrase “muscling in” in the headline” and continues through the reference to “the involvement of females in criminal activity” and the involvement of girls in “very aggressive activity.” This is depersonalised through the use of collective nouns (girls/women/females) and the connection drawn with organised crime: “East End gangs or Trident-type criminals”. There is passing reference to girls as victims/vulnerable in the last paragraph, but it is easily overlooked.

In contrast, the Guardian reports in detail on an individual case, making the link between aggression and a traumatic background very clear: “the scars on her forearms are so deep and dense it looks as if she has been badly burned”. This focus on the individual example, and the imagery used, readily invokes an image of psychological harm as the cause of girl gang behaviour. There is a graphic image of the violence which girl gangs can invoke; Ruby stabbed the man with a tool she kept “just in case”, but this is placed at the beginning of the article and is not the image remaining with reader.

The way gangs are positioned within wider society

The Daily Mail article invokes the wider society through reference to “outside experts”, such as the Metropolitan Police Authority and academic research. However, the experts cited refer to “females” and “girls” collectively, as a phenomenon which exists independently of the wider society. The picture presented is...
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