Department of Sociology
College of Social Science
Carl S. Taylor’s extensive field research in Detroit and other hard-hit Michigan cities has gained him a national reputation as an expert in American youth culture, gangs, and violence. His multidisciplinary approach as an ethnographer, ecologist, and criminologist led him to become an advocate for investing in human capital, especially with regard to strengthening a community’s relationship with its youth.
He spent thousands of his own dollars and six years living in an inner-Detroit neighborhood, following two violent street gangs. The result was a ground-breaking book, Dangerous Society (MSU Press, 1989). One unexpected finding was the extent to which the young gangsters had become sophisticated entrepreneurs with corporate-style organizations in the drug business. A later book, Girls, Gangs, Women and Drugs (MSU
Press, 1993), documented the rising numbers of young women who were getting involved with these activities. In 2013, “The Attraction of Gangs: How Can We Reduce It?” (co-authored with Pamela R. Smith) appeared in the joint NIJ/CDC publication, Changing Course: Preventing Gang Membership.
Despite the grim statistics, a central theme in Taylor’s research, teaching,and advocacy is hope. He grew up in Detroit, witnessed the city’s fall from prominence, and hopes to see it rise again, this time in a way that benefits all Detroiters.
Taylor is a University Outreach and Engagement University-Community Senior Fellow. He received the MSU College of Social Science Alumni Association Outstanding Teaching Award in 2015. Additionally, he received the MSU Department of Sociology Excellence-in-Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2013, 2014, and 2017. Organizations that he has worked with include the Guggenheim Foundation, the C. S. Mott Foundation, the
FBI Academy, and the Children’s Defense Fund. Dr. Taylor served on the Michigan Juvenile Justice Committee for more than ten years and advises various projects concerning youth throughout America.