prides itself on the diversity of its population yet the myth
of multicultural harmony quickly collapses under pressure. Crime
and violence are a common source of moral panic which shatters
In Sydney one of the world's most multicultural cities
the media's coverage of 'ethnic crime' brings this into
Kebabs, Kids, Cops and Crime looks at the aftermath of two
events which occurred in Sydney's south-western suburbs in 1998
the murder of a 14 year old schoolboy, Edward Lee, in Punchbowl
and two weeks later, the drive-by shoot-up of the Lakemba police
The NSW Premier and the NSW Police Commissioner blamed "Lebanese
gangs" for both crimes and media coverage emphasised the
"Middle-Eastern appearance" of the alleged perpetrators.
A high-profile "zero tolerance" crackdown by police
in the Bankstown area was then directed against young people
of Arabic-speaking background in public spaces. Suddenly Australian
citizens were stripped of their nationality in the rhetoric of
Jock Collins, Greg Noble, Scott Poynting and Paul Tabar assess
the complexities of ethnicity, racialisation, youth and crime.
They present evidence on crime and ethnicity to interrogate the
issue of "ethnic youth gangs" in Sydney.
Examining interviews with police, parents, community workers,
community leaders and Lebanese-background youths, as well as
reviewing national and international research, here is a critical
analysis of the media, political and police responses to these
two instances of violence on the streets drawing on economics,
sociology, anthropology and cultural studies.
Kebabs, Kids, Cops and Crime reveals that understanding socio-economic
factors is critical to developing more effective policy responses
to youth crime. Popular assumptions about ethnic criminality
are more part of the problem than the solution.
Jock Collins is an Associate Professor of Economics
at the University of Technology, Sydney.
Greg Noble is a Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies
at the University of Western Sydney.
Scott Poynting is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology of
Education at UWS.
Paul Tabar is a sociologist and a Research Associate
at UTS and UWS.