Amplified Masculinity Among Los Angeles Homeboys
As an introduction to the empirical section of the book, the next two chapters draw upon insights from the country where gangs have been part of the cultural fabric for over 300 years—the USA. They focus specifically on Los Angeles, the city that gave America the modern street gang. In this chapter, I begin by considering the way in which issues of race, segregation and discrimination combined to create communities that spawned street gang formation in Los Angeles. I also discuss the way in which wider social marginalisation has sustained this. In the main body of the chapter, I share insights from life history interviews conducted with male Latino gang members from the most socially disadvantaged areas of the city, all of whom were in the early stages of transition and change when I met them. I discuss the social barriers that they came across during their early lives, the profound lack of love and hope they experienced, their perceptions about masculinity and described involvement in gang-related offending. I also consider what motivated their initial desire to change and begin to move away from violent criminality.
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