Dr. Juanjo Medina
Senior Lecturer Centre for Criminological and Socio-Legal Research School of Law University of Manchester
The University of Manchester
School of Law
Williamson Building-4.48 Manchester M13 9PL
I began my research career working on intimate partner violence, then a rather unexplored area of research in my home country. I managed to secure funds for what became the first national survey about this topic in Spain. When I moved to England I was also looking for areas that had not received sufficient research attention. Initially I was interested in understanding how group dynamics and social networks may contribute to intimate partner violence. This led me to pay closer attention to youth networks and violence. It was in that context that I soon realised that, despite considerable media attention to the issue of gangs, there were almost no academic studies of gangs in Britain. This led to a 3-year ethnographic study and a collaboration with the Home Office to conduct a survey that, for the first time, tried to measure gang membership nationally in the UK. As in other parts of Europe gangs have now captured the imagination of the public and politicians and our work aims to inform public debate in this issue. That is how I became enmeshed in the Eurogang Network, a group of American and European researchers with the dream of carrying out comparative research in this area. Criminology in many ways deals with rather parochial and local issues and many of its descriptions and explanations are very rooted in the political and social history of the countries with a stronger criminological tradition, such as the US or the UK. For me the real challenge of the future is to appreciate we live in a much bigger, diverse and rapidly changing world. Indeed, one of the things that first attracted me to Rutgers was its international and comparative vocation, strongly advocated at the time by people like Gerhard Mueller and Freda Adler, and represented in the nationality and research of the faculty.