NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ868527
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 36
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0005-2604
The Core Ideals of the Mexican American Gang Living the Presentation of Defiance
Duran, Robert J.
Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies, v34 n2 p99-134 Fall 2009
Current approaches to designing antigang policies overemphasize the notion that criminality is the defining characteristic of gangs and that solutions require a get-tough approach. As an ex-gang member, I conducted a five-year ethnographic study and a fourteen-year informal study of Mexican American street gangs in two Southwestern states to understand the persistence of gangs. I found that the obstacles that have been imposed on low-income, ethnic minority neighborhoods have led to an adaptive strategy for survival in which gangs play a central, albeit destructive, role. Gangs maintain their cohesiveness and longevity through four core ideals: displaying loyalty, responding courageously to external threats, promoting and defending gang status, and maintaining a stoic attitude toward the negative consequences of gang life. State-sponsored opposition to gangs only further solidifies these ideals. Pragmatic solutions will require rechanneling the collective energy of current and former gang members toward community empowerment.
UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. 193 Haines Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1544. Tel: 310-794-9380; Tel: 310-825-2642; Fax: 310-206-1784; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A