Latino youth, gangs, and community activism : a case study of advocacy anthropology Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/dj52w767m

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  • A social issue of great importance in contemporary society is the involvement of youth in gangs. Youth involvement in gang activity has dominated the national media and the minds of public policy makers in contemporary society. In this thesis I examine how Latino and Chicano youth sub-culture, language, dress, and style, has been first, misinterpreted and secondarily reconstructed, as a criminal subculture by public policy makers, local law enforcement officials, public school administrators, and the general public. The construction of Latino and Chicano youth subculture as criminal has occurred through the process of labeling. In this process culture and crime have become intertwined where specific cultures and their members are perceived and then reclassified as criminal subcultures. This thesis provides a case study of the process of labeling in a community located in the Pacific Northwest. The community where this research project was conducted has undergone tremendous fluctuations in its population demographics. These changes have led to underlying tensions and conflicts between the various ethnic and linguistic groups represented in the community. It is within this context that the issue of youth gangs must be analyzed. The specific purposes of thesis are to: provide the theoretical framework to view the social discourse of youth gangs; document and analyze the community context which has contributed to the emergence of the social discourse of youth gangs; to document how culture, style, and crime have become intertwined to inaccurately characterize Latino and Chicano youth sub-culture as gang culture; to document and analyze how the social discourse of youth gangs has been constructed as a moral panic; and to provide possible solutions from applied anthropology.
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