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Homies and HermanosGod and Gangs in Central America$
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Robert Brenneman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199753840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199753840.001.0001

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Turning Shame into Violence

Turning Shame into Violence

(p.63) 3 Turning Shame into Violence
Homies and Hermanos

Robert Brenneman

Oxford University Press

Why are Central American youth attracted to gangs and why does violence play such an important role in gang life? This chapter argues that chronic shame resulting from the experience of relative deprivation (poverty), abusive or absentee parents, and school problems makes some Central American youth prime candidates for joining the gang. The gang offers a temporary escape from chronic shame because it offers gang members the possibility of accessing pride through rituals of solidarity, the excitement of engaging in crime, and access to money, drugs, and sex. In the second half of the chapter the author examines the social structural sources of chronic shame—including poverty, unemployment, and the feminization of migration—and develops a model for understanding why some barrio youth join the gang and others do not.

Keywords:   shame, Central America, violence, gangs, youth violence, crime, sex, drugs

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