urban studies, street gangs, autoethnography, cultural criminalization


To varying outcomes, many attempts have been made to understand and define urban street gangs. Though these understandings and definitions of gangs may vary, they almost always rely on criminality as at least one of the gang’s “purposes.” The author, a gang member for approximately thirty years seeks to contribute lived experiences to the conversation centered on gangs. This auto-ethnographic analysis of urban street gang culture seeks to highlight the author’s experiences as potential determinants of gang membership while also exacting the realities of some common myths and other misconceptions surrounding the urban street gang, including the criminalization thereof. The analysis reasons that gangs are not criminal enterprises because gang members are not required to commit crimes to gain or maintain membership within the gang and the entire gang’s members do not benefit from or possess knowledge and agreement of crimes committed by each and other individual gang members.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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