Title

Gangs, Clubs, and Alcohol: The Effect of Organizational Membership on Adolescent Drinking Behavior

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-2016

Abstract

How does adolescent organizational membership in general, and simultaneous membership in distinct types of organizations in particular, impact drinking behavior? While past studies have focused either on the learning effect of involvement with gangs or on the constraining influence of conventional organizations on adolescent problem behavior, we explore the possibility that conventional school clubs can serve as socializing opportunities for existing gang members to engage in drinking behavior with non-gang club members. Using the Add Health data, we show that gang members drink more often, and engage in more binge drinking, than non-members. More importantly, individuals who are members of both gangs and school clubs drink alcohol at greater levels than those who are solely involved in gangs. In addition, non-gang adolescents who are co-members with gang members in the same school club are more likely to drink alcohol than non-members. This result has important implications for understanding the role of organizations in adolescent behavior and suggests that the study of delinquent behaviors would benefit from devoting more attention to individuals who bridge distinct types of organizations.