Multiple marginality refers to the many ways that a cluster of ecological, economic, and sociocultural macro and micro conditions leads to racism, ethnicism, and oppression. They in turn cause strain, undermine social control, disrupt family associations, and destabilize conventional socialization. Vigil uses this conceptual lens to show why many marginalized youth, such as those he observed in several distressed Los Angeles neighborhoods, join street gangs. Marginalization began long ago as immigrants and minorities were forced into urban ethnic enclaves that became impoverished, heightening patterns of unemployment and family disruption. Because of these factors, Vigil argues, youth were more likely to experience strain due to living in unsafe neighborhoods, receiving poor educational opportunities, and experiencing poor school environments, family turmoil, and oppressive encounters with law enforcement. These experiences in turn caused low self-esteem and further marginalization, ultimately leading many youth to join street gangs to protect themselves, to enhance their self-esteem, and to gain a supportive social network not available elsewhere. Ameliorative steps should thus include strengthening families and improving educational and employment opportunities for youth who experience multiple marginalities. Recommended.
Vigil’s multiple marginality framework examines how marginalization impacts communities, groups, families, and individuals in ways that contribute to the proliferation of street gangs. With his framework developed, Vigil acknowledges that new developments in society will influence how marginalization impacts communities and, by extension, gangs. Immigration patterns and policies continue to change along with the racial and ethnic composition of the United States. In an increasingly global society, gangs have become transnational, as gangs such as MS-13 have emerged and become the focus of law enforcement attention. Hysteria about gangs and minority populations shift, influencing the nature and extent of marginalization. Crime policies also change over time and have different effects on communities, gangs, and gang-related behavior. Given these changes, scholars should continue to examine the role of marginalization on communities, and utilize Vigil’s multiple marginality framework to better understand the impact of these changes on street gangs.