Examination of Multiple Marginality

Summary of pertinent facts and conclusions. This summary would make an excellent abstract
Proper intext citations using APA format. At least 3 outside scholarly citations and the textbook
More than 3 APA Format
Explicit identification of major themes or thesis. Identification of specific themes and subthemes
At least 3 scholarly articles that either supports or refutes conclusion of the article. APA format
Explicit and clear identification of the pages in the textbook
Race and Gang Affiliation: An Examination of Multiple Marginality Adrienne Freng and Finn-Aage Esbensen Taylor and Francis Ltd RJQY_A_271618.sgm 10.1080/07418820701717136 Justice Quarterly 0741-8825 (print)/1745-9109 (online) Original Article 2007 Taylor & Francis 244000000December 2007 AdrienneFreng [email protected] Criminological research has historically drawn a connection between race/ ethnicity and gang membership. The focus on specific racial/ethnic groups and particular gangs in distinct geographical locations within ethnographic research, along with the lack of a comprehensive explanation, however, has limited this research. Thus, the true nature of the relationship between race/ethnicity and gang membership remains unclear. This research expands the contemporary literature regarding race/ethnicity and gang membership by utilizing multisite survey data to examine Vigil’s (1988, 2002) multiple marginality framework of gang involvement for Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics. Results suggest that multiple marginality is a viable explanation for current gang membership. When examining the applicability of this theory for members of various racial/ ethnic groups, important differences appear when examining current versus ever gang membership. For current gang membership, significant differences between racial/ethnic groups exist, with ecological/economic stress variables being significant for Whites and social control/street socialization elements representing the important predictors for African Americans and Hispanics. This pattern changes when examining those reporting ever being in a gang. For “ever” gang membership, social control/street socialization elements predict membership for all groups. Policy implications of these results are discussed. Keywords affiliation; gang; multiple marginality; race Adrienne Freng is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Wyoming. Her research interests include juvenile delinquency, gangs, and race and crime issues, and specifically how they relate to American Indian populations. Finn-Aage Esbensen holds the E. Desmond Lee Chair in Youth Crime and Violence in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri—St. Louis. Throughout his career, he has been interested in the nexus between research and policy, working on both evaluation and basic research projects. He is currently principal investigator on two multisite evaluations of school-based prevention programs. Correspondence to: Adrienne Freng, Department of Criminal Justice, University of Wyoming, 1000 E. University, Dept 3197, Laramie, WY 82071, USA. E-mail: [email protected] MARGINALIZATION AND GANG MEMBERSHIP 601 Introduction A central factor in gang research has been the association between race/ethnicity and gang membership (e.g., Campbell, 1991; Chin, 1996; Decker & Van Winkle, 1996; Fleisher, 1998; Hagedorn, 1988; Moore, 1978, 1991; Puffer, 1912; Thrasher, 1927/1963; Vigil, 1988, 2002; Whyte, 1955/1981). While early gang researchers focused on White ethnic immigrants (e.g., Puffer, 1912; Thrasher, 1927/1963; Whyte, 1955/1981), during the 1950s, a shift spurred by the movement of African Americans to urban centers occurred (cf., Campbell, 1991; Chin, 1996; Decker & Van Winkle, 1996; Hagedorn, 1988; Moore, 1978, 1991; Vigil, 1988, 2002). Since that time, research has emphasized the involvement of racial/ethnic minorities in gangs, including African Americans, Hispanics, and more recently Asians (cf., Campbell, 1991; Chin, 1996; Decker & Van Winkle, 1996; Hagedorn, 1988; Moore, 1978, 1991; Vigil, 1988, 2002). The race/ethnicity and gang membership relationship has primarily been described in ethnographic studies utilizing in-depth interviews and observations (Campbell, 1991; Decker & Van Winkle, 1996; Fleisher, 1998; Hagedorn, 1988; Moore, 1978, 1991; Thrasher, 1923/1963; Vigil, 1988, 2002; Whyte, 1955/1981; Yablonsky, 1962/1970). These qualitative data illustrate characteristics and behaviors of gang members within specific racial/ethnic groups, but often neglect to examine actual differences between groups. The emphasis on race/ ethnicity in ethnographies, along with media images of gang members, perpetuates the view that gang membership is restricted to minorities (Esbensen & Tusinski, 2007). Law-enforcement data support this contention by revealing an over-representation of minorities in gangs (Curry, Ball, & Decker, 1996; Curry, Ball, & Fox, 1994; Maxson & Klein, 1990, 1996; Spergel, 1990). However, recent surveys call into question the gang-race/ethnicity relationship by revealing growing numbers of gangs in rural and suburban areas and a higher prevalence of White gang members than previously reported (Covey, Menard, & Franzese, 1997; Curry et al., 1994, 1996; Egley, Howell, & Major, 2004; Esbensen & Winfree, 1998; Freng & Winfree, 2004). Minority membership in gangs is often seen as a symptom of larger societal problems. Consequently, issues, such as poverty, discrimination, segregation, and urbanization, are central to many theories of gang membership (e.g., Curry & Decker, 1998; Curry & Spergel, 1992; Hagedorn, 1988; Moore, 1991; Shaw & McKay, 1942/1969; Short, 1968; Thrasher, 1927/1963; Vigil, 1988, 2002). More recently, explanations of gang membership have adopted a risk-factor approach (e.g., Curry & Spergel, 1992; Decker & Van Winkle, 1996; Hill, Lui, & Hawkins, 2004; Maxson, Whitlock, & Klein, 1998; Thornberry, 1998). However, few of these theories were originally developed to specifically consider the role of race/ethnicity in gang involvement. Instead, these theories offer broad explanations of gang membership applied to homogenous racial/ethnic populations. Vigil’s (1988, 2002) multiple marginality framework, which focuses on explaining gang membership in minority populations, represents one notable exception. While Vigil (1988) originally applied his framework to Hispanic gang 602 FRENG AND ESBENSEN members, he later employed this model to describe gang membership among African American, Vietnamese, and Salvadoran populations (Vigil, 2002). While this important contribution begins to address the paucity of racial/ethnic comparisons in the gang literature, to date no empirical tests of the applicability of multiple marginality for White youths have been reported; nor has this framework been examined beyond qualitative analysis. In assessing the relationship between race/ethnicity and gang membership, several important issues need to be reconciled. Our research attempts to address theoretical and methodological shortcomings in the literature and expand knowledge regarding race/ethnicity and gangs beyond specific racial/ ethnic group membership and geographic location. The purpose of this research is to examine whether the multiple marginality perspective, as outlined by Vigil (1988, 2002) and as conceptualized in this article, predicts gang involvement both globally and differentially by race/ethnicity. Specifically, utilizing survey data, our study assesses the applicability of the multiple marginality framework as an explanation for gang membership and the extent to which it explains gang involvement for individuals from various racial/ethnic groups. Based on these results, implications for future research and public policy are offered. Relevant Literature Explanations of Gang Involvement Among Racial/Ethnic Minorities Much of the current research regarding gang development includes environmental explanations for gang membership (e.g., Cloward & Ohlin, 1960; Cohen, 1955; Hagedorn, 1988; Klein, 1971, 1995; Miller, 1958, 1975; Moore, 1991; Short & Strodtbeck, 1965/1974, 1968, 1973; Spergel, 1964, 1969; Thrasher, 1927/1963; Vigil, 1988, 2002; Whyte, 1955/1981; Yablonsky, 1962/1970). Consequently, the creation of an urban underclass resulting from economic segmentation serves as the basis for many contemporary explanations of gang involvement, especially those focusing on African American and Hispanic populations (Hagedorn, 1988; Moore, 1991; Vigil, 1988, 2002; Wilson, 1987). According to these theories, the deindustrialization of the economy during the 1980s gave rise to the institutionalization of gangs when employment opportunities decreased, and economic inequality increased. Discrimination compounded this economic hardship, triggering multiple disadvantages for generations of minorities in these communities (e.g., Hagedorn, 1988; Moore, 1991; Vigil, 1988, 2002). One of these theories and the focus of the current research is Vigil’s (1988, 2002) multiple marginality framework, which introduces specific consideration of the role of race/ethnicity in gang formation, something lacking in prior research. Vigil (1988, 2002) originally developed his perspective to explain gang involvement among Hispanic youths in the barrios of Los Angeles and later applied it to other racial/ethnic groups. To better understand the development of gangs among minority groups, he maintained that each group’s MARGINALIZATION AND GANG MEMBERSHIP 603 history within the US must be considered, including an examination of “the multiple factors that affect youths from various ethnic backgrounds who join gangs” (Vigil, 2002, p. 14). He suggests that marginalization reflects the “macrohistorical and macrostructural forces—those that occur at the broader levels of society—[that] lead to economic insecurity and lack of opportunity, fragmented institutions of social control, poverty, and psychological and emotional barriers” (Vigil, 2002, p. 7). Vigil proposed that these various elements interact to produce a cumulative effect of marginalization, ultimately resulting in gang membership. In search of self-identity, gang membership serves as an adaptation to this marginality and becomes a coping mechanism for marginalized youth. Extending traditional ecological explanations of gangs, Decker and Van Winkle (1996) explored the role of threat. They suggested that the loss of formal and informal social institutions, such as family, schools, and law enforcement, in disorganized communities creates threats. As a result, violence by gang members develops and spreads through the community. Gang members, in turn, become isolated from these communities and the institutions within them, creating a cycle of gang involvement (Decker & Van Winkle, 1996). Recent research has introduced a risk factor approach to the study of gangs. Curry and Spergel (1992), for example, reported that for Hispanic youths, intrapersonal variables such as educational frustration, and peer and school self-esteem comprised the important elements in explaining gang membership. Acculturation has also been linked to gang membership for Hispanics, with gang members being less acculturated than non-gang members (Lopez & Brummett, 2003; Vigil, 1988). On the other hand, social or interpersonal variables such as low family attachment or parental involvement, having family members in gangs, gang members in their classes, and friends who used drugs have been identified as important factors for African Americans (Curry & Spergel, 1992; Decker & Van Winkle, 1996; Maxson et al., 1998). These explanations, including Vigil’s (1988, 2002) framework, begin to address the larger issue of the relationship between race/ethnicity and gang membership. Yet, several gaps in this extant literature remain. First, perspectives examining the relationship between race/ethnicity and gang membership remain scarce and rarely have been examined outside the realm of ethnographies concentrating on specific racial/ethnic groups, including Vigil’s (1988, 2002) own work. Furthermore, Vigil’s perspective remains ambiguous on the nature and relative strength of the key theoretical factors and how they ultimately lead differentially to gang membership. Second, this literature lacks an extensive comparison of differences between gang members from various racial/ethnic groups. In his recent work, Vigil (2002) continues to apply his framework independently to specific racial/ethnic groups in a distinct location. One disadvantage of this strategy is its inability to assess whether the same or different factors explain gang involvement for all racial/ethnic groups (e.g., Curry et al., 1994; Decker & Van Winkle, 1996; Hagedorn, 1994; Huizinga & Elliott, 1987; Moore, 1991; Vigil, 1988, 2002). 604 FRENG AND ESBENSEN To address these shortcomings in previous work, we first provide a conceptualization of multiple marginality to explain gang membership. Then, utilizing survey data from multiple sites, we examine the extent to which similar factors, in particular multiple marginality elements, influence gang membership among Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics. Specifically, we explore the following questions related to Vigil’s (1988, 2002) multiple marginality framework: 1. Is multiple marginality, as conceptualized, a viable explanation of gang membership? 2. Does multiple marginality apply globally or uniquely to different racial/ ethnic groups? In answering these questions, this research may inform social policy by determining whether multiple marginality provides an explanation for gang membership and by assessing the extent to which a need for race/ethnic-specific programming exists (Curry & Spergel, 1992; Decker & Van Winkle, 1996; Maxson et al., 1998). C

Leave a Reply