Mo(ve)ment-methodology: Identity formation moving beyond gang involvement

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- Identity formation moving beyond gang involvement
This paper describes the theoretical basis for and development of a moment-movement research methodology, based on the integration of critical psychological practice research and critical ethnographic social practice theory. Central theoretical conceptualizations, such as human agency, life conditions and identity formation, are discussed in relation to criminological theories of gang desistance. The paper illustrates how the mo(ve)ment methodology was applied in a study of comprehensive processes of identity (re)formation and gang exit processes. This study was conducted with Martin, a former member of a biker gang, as he became a research apprentice and more academically reflective, while moving beyond gang involvement.
The paper presents and analyzes a single experienced moment, referred to as
“Sp(l)itting on the street”, as an empirical example of the mo(ve)ment methodology. This is a moment that captures Martin’s complex and ambiguous feelings of conflictual concerns, frustration, anger, and a new feeling of insecurity in his masculinity, as well as engagement and a sense of deep meaningfulness as he becomes a more reflective academic. All of these conflicting feelings also give a sense of being split into conflicting identities. The paper analyzes how such conflictual feelings can also be productive, producing movements and changes in identity formation, through our social practice research analysis and joint venture.
The analyzed moment is positioned within and related to broader conflictual struggles and processes (we call these “movements”), which include both continuity and change in Martin’s conduct of everyday life as he moves in and across several action contexts and practice communities.
By collectively reflecting on moments over time as part of our social practice research, we study the processes of moving beyond gang involvement; together, we produce and expanded agency and identity formation at the same time. While we research Martin’s movements from a position as a high–ranking member of a biker gang towards becoming a more legitimate member of academia, we simultaneously develop new methodologies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnual Review of Critical Psychology
Pages (from-to)634-670
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2019

    Research areas

  • Critical ethnographic practice, Social practice theory, Critical Psychology, Practice Research, Moment-movement methodology, Conflictual identity formation, Movements beyond gang involvement, Masculinity, criminology, gang exit processes, Gang desistance

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