James Patrick’ is a pseudonym for a researcher who in the late 1950s observed a Glaswegian gang in the Maryhill district for four months. He found a gang member called Tim in an approved school, and Tim got him into the gang. Given his privileged position and knowledge, Tim also protected the researcher. Tim in Glasgow was especially important because one gang member became suspicious and stated this to others when ‘James Patrick’ did not want to carry a weapon when the gang engaged in fights with rivals. He also held back from the actual fights. Tim would then come in on his side. Nevertheless the researcher did not write his field notes until after the research.

‘James Patrick’ left Glasgow quickly when the violence became too unacceptable for him and he felt threatened. By memory after the events he reproduced rich data on the speech and ways of the gang, although the research itself was presented in a neutral and academic style. He was afraid of the gang and waited years before publishing; this was also to protect their identities. It was published in 1973 as “A Glasgow Gang Observed”.

‘Patrick’s’ findings relate to social conditions that led to such a gang forming and becoming so intense in their behaviour, and that a core activity of the group was to put themselves into conflict situations where they may well have to fight but where actual fighting often did not happen. The Glasgow gang was found to be equivalent in behaviour and custom to the experience of gangs in the United States.

Research Methods