The University was pleased to welcome back one of its alumni, Dr James Densley, who visited 10 years after graduating to give a talk on his new book, How Gangs Work: An Ethnography of Youth Violence.
James graduated with a First Class BA (Hons) in Sociology and then pursued a D.Phil and MSc in Sociology at the University of Oxford. He then moved to New York City and became a Teaching Fellow and completed a second Masters Degree in Education. He now works as Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at the Metropolitan State University in Minnesota.
Having spent two years completing ethnographic fieldwork with gangs in London, James gave an interesting insight into the lifestyle of gang members, how they recruit, their role in the drugs trade, as well as the relationship between gangs and organised crime. He explained how he conducted his research through semi-structured interviews with different gangs in Croydon, Hackney, Haringey, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark, as they are predominately well known for gang activity.
As he was potentially subject to sensitive information, James interviewed gang members by issuing three rules: “Never tell me something that only you and I know; never provide specific details on criminal activity; and never discuss details of any planned offences.”
In an email to his former tutors prior to his visit, James said: “I would love to come back to campus and share my research with the faculty and students. Indeed, I would not be doing this were it not for the education I received at the University of Northampton.”
Dr Glyn Daly, Associate Professor in Politics and Sociology at the University of Northampton, commented:”From gifted student to international scholar, James continues to be a real credit to the School of Social Sciences at the University of Northampton. I look forward to working with him on student-based projects in the future.”
Read James’ case study on his career so far and his experience at the University of Northampton