The author spent over four years working in a youth project in London. The aim of the research was to contest the notion of the 'Asian Gang', increasingly popular in the media and common conversation. Alexander stated that this notion was a convenient way of bypassing any proper investigation into the dynamics and relationships of these 'gangs' and, in themselves, were just a shorthand or cipher for a reductionism of symbols of gender, race and class.
Alexander presents the reality of the perceived 'gang' as a more fluid and interchanging relationship of identities and friendships than such a monolithic term as 'gang' can engender. 'Gang' itself comes pre-loaded with racial stereo-types and is the result of a theoretical and practical criminalisation of Asian (male) youth, a process previously restricted in its application to Afro-Caribbean communities.
This book contributes less to the areas of roots, practices and consequences of terrorism in the presence of its conclusions than in the absence of the assumptions it dismisses. While the self-formed identities of modern British Muslims are often considered to be an area of particular focus for those researching these areas Alexander shows that we are in danger of creating labels and groupings that do not exist. Whilst challenging the notion of the Asian Gang Alexander also leads us to question the formation and support of these rigid labels that tend to come out of popular discourse.