The Misconceived Familia: A critical examination on the intersectionality of the persevering gang member in the subculture of East Los Angeles and Maravilla

Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Researcher sought after information and literature which would shed a light on the culture and family ties within the community of East Los Angeles. Researcher recruited Gang members, specifically Maravilla gang members for personal interviews to better understand the values, beliefs, and fears they possess and more importantly live by during their lifetime in order to survive. Researcher conducted an evaluation on the brotherhood, history, rules and code of conducts within and among gang culture. I aimed to target a population of ex-gang members, current gang members and scholarly articles on information pertaining to the initiations, laws, secrecy, trust and codes of conduct within these societies. In addition, my research observed, dthe complexities of the highly structured organizations that take place in a “no ask, no tell” type of underworld that also functions in a wide array of many gang cultures. By using research from personal interviews, books on personal narratives, and scholarly articles, the data will demonstrate how gangs have adaptively formed their form of government, morality and most importantly family ties and bonds which were momentously needed to survive within these structures. A subculture within a community who misunderstands them and sometimes alienates them due to their prolonged undesirable reputation. The gap in literature created limitations for the research as resistance has been met while attempting to seek out such personal information. There is little to no history of the intimate lifestyle being shared with outsiders, but what is shown is literature from individuals who were a part of this “no ask no tell society” but astoundingly escaped to tell their stories. Researcher spoke with adults between the ages of 28 to 55, who identified as a gang member currently or some point in their lifetime. Interviews were also conducted on one male adult who served approximately 2 years in various California correctional systems and shared intimate experiences with the prison gang members who also interacted and aligned himself with the prison gang rules and program. All interviewees were residents of the East Los Angeles, and Maravilla region. Researcher used the snowball effect to gather data and ultimately concluded that the similarities in wanting to be loved, belong or be a part of something bigger then themselves was widespread throughout the data.


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