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Research at St Andrews

Tilman Schwarze


Research overview

Tilman, who is currently a PhD student at the University of St Andrews, started to become interested in crime and criminal justice during his Bachelor degree in Politics. He analysed the Mérida Initiative for fighting organised crime in Mexico and Central America as an example of a Security Governance Arrangement in his Bachelor dissertation, examining whether this initiative promotes the incorporation of non-state actors in the implementation of security mechanisms throughout this region. During his MLitt in International Security at the University of St Andrews, he focused on the role of identity formation and social capital within street gangs. In his MLitt dissertation he examined the role of social capital over the life course of gang membership (onset, persistence, and desistance), and whether each of these steps is influenced by the ability to generate social capital.

The working title of his PhD project is The Spatiality of Capitalism and Street Gangs in a Post-Industrial City. His PhD project forms part of a scholarship that examines the relationship between processes of globalisation, neoliberal capitalism and the formation of street gangs. He argues that one way of analysing such relationships is to incorporate a critical perspective on the way neoliberal capitalism transforms and marginalises the social space of neighbourhoods in which street gangs exist. In his analysis of such processes, he focused on neighbourhoods from Chicago’s South Side.

In particular, his project examines how such alteration processes of urban social space impacts everyday life and the lived experiences of gang members within that space. Concomitantly, he is also interested in the question whether gangs offer social networks for the provision of resistance identities to such marginalisation processes. Theoretically, Tilman engages with scholarship from critical human geography in order to examine neoliberal capitalism’s impact on the social and cultural configuration of space.

Research Keywords: street gangs, social space, capitalism, neoliberalism, social capital, violence

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