Leading gang scholar, Irving Spergel dies

By Alex A. Alonso
Streetgangs.com Staff Writer
January 5, 2011 | 1:45 a.m.

Irving Spergel, 1924 - 2010

Irving Spergel, 1924 - 2010

If you are a student of street gangs, a name you have definitely come across is Irving Spergel, who became a top scholar on street gangs and one of the world’s leading experts. On Friday December 3, 2010, Spergel, 84, died in his Chicago home.

Spergel published seven books and wrote, co-authored and edited more than 100 articles, reports, chapters and monographs on street gang intervention, including works on community mobilization and gang problem-solving. Since I was an undergraduate at the University of Southern California, I often spent hours reading his books and journal articles in my quest to advance my knowledge on street gangs.

His interest in research on gangs began while working with gang youth from 1952 to 1960 as part of the New York City Youth Board and his first publication was Racketville, Slumtown, Haulburg: An Exploratory Study of Delinquent Subcultures (1964). The first Spergel book I read was The Youth Gang Problem: A Community Approach (1995), a must read book for new students, law enforcement, policy practitioners and anyone interested in gangs.

He is survived by his wife, Annot; sons Barry, Mark and Daniel, from his first marriage to Bertha Jampel Spergel (who died in 1989); brothers Philip and Martin; and granddaughters Elizabeth and Sarah.

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Alex Alonso is an author, film maker and founder of Streetgangs.com. He is also a contributing author in the 2010 book entitled “Black Los Angeles: American Dreams Racial Realities” (New York University Press). He can be reached via email, at 800-249-1324, or on Twitter.

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1 Comment for “Leading gang scholar, Irving Spergel dies”

  1. billy the kid

    RIP big dawg

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