Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Matt DeLisi



Urban gangs have captivated social scientists and been the topic of research for decades. However, recent gang member migration has created a relatively new interest in the possibility of non-metropolitan, or rural, gang presence and activities. Current research literature contends that this phenomenon is the result of the in-migration of urban minority and immigrant gang members, whereas law enforcement asserts gang growth is caused by community apathy toward the growing problem. This research examined community perceptions within the rural case study community of Bridgetown, Iowa. Bridgetown has been experiencing an influx of minority in-migrants entering the community to work in its meat packing facility, and, according to local law enforcement, supposedly has a gang presence. Participants were residents and members of institutions of social control within the community. These individuals were selected because they would be the most likely within the community to come into direct contact or be aware of a real gang presence. They completed questionnaires and participated in one-on-one interviews designed to ascertain their general perceptions towards topics regarding crime, gangs, and the new in-migrant population within the community. The research also attempted to discover what steps these individuals believed that people within their profession and other community members could take in embracing diversity within the community and whether these ideas might contribute to the reduction or elimination of gang activity within the community. The results show that while these residents do acknowledge the socioeconomic importance of the new in-migrant community members, they do believe that gangs are present and are the result of the migration of these minority groups within the community. Most participants also agreed that diversity programs should be offered to combat the potential gang problem and eliminate racial and ethnic tensions that might exist between the native and in-migrant populations.

Copyright Owner

Angela Glosser



File Format


File Size

216 pages