Adult Delinquent Gangs in a Chicano Community: Masked Intimacy and Marginality

Ruth Horowitz

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    Most studies of youthful delinquent or fighting gangs have regarded them as relatively fragile groups that terminate with adult status, adult community members' pressure, or increasing socioeconomic benefits. In this follow-up participant-observation study of an inner-city Chicano community, it was found that previously observed gangs survived as their members matured into their twenties and fulfilled their adult roles and responsibilities This phenomenon is explained in terms of the continued marginal economic position of these young men, their continuing commitment to an honor-based subculture in which dependence and lack of domination is experienced as dishonor, the growing friendship and dependency of gang members, and the necessity of masking that dependency by remaining a gang to maintain the respect of others It is argued that the gang provides a culturally safe way for such intimate relations to exist while the members can publicly maintain their identity as independent men of honor.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)3-26
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of Contemporary Ethnography
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Apr 1982

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Anthropology
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Urban Studies


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