Small town insurgency : the struggle for information dominance to reduce gang violence
Vickers, Jeremy S.
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Since 2006, the gang-related homicide rate in Salinas, California, has quadrupled. As of 2009, the homicide rate associated with gang activity far exceeds that of much larger California cities such as San Francisco, San Jose, and even Los Angeles. This thesis examines this negative trend through the lens of counterinsurgency, since gangs exhibit many similarities, in structure and tactics, to insurgent groups. Accordingly, this thesis capitalizes on the diverse academic theories available to the study of counterinsurgencies. While the common narrative for an effective counterinsurgency campaign focuses on the importance of information dominance, there has been little research into component factors that might either promote or inhibit the flow of information that is also critical in combating the American street-gang phenomenon. In reality, gangs exist because of an information advantage bestowed upon them by the population. Thus, we postulate that two factors, information volume and information processing, mutually contribute to information dominance with respect to a counter-gang strategy. Through comparative analysis, our research suggests that improving relationships between the population and the government encourages more communication about gang activities. Additionally, improving communication structures within the government enhances information processing. Combined, these two factors reduce the gang's information advantage.
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