Examining Family Hierarchy Through the Eyes of Former Mac Baller Gang Members

Jerome Lee Rice, Walden University


Criminal gang membership is growing, which corresponds to a continued breakdown of the family unit in the United States. Most of the young people who form gangs come from broken families or single-parent-headed households. This study explored the role of family hierarchy on gang membership. A qualitative case study approach was used to gather information on what motivates young people to join criminal gangs. A random sampling technique was used to recruit former members of the Mac Baller Brim gang. Ethical concerns were addressed to minimize the risks to the participants. The collected data from interviews were analyzed using an interpretive research philosophy to determine the contribution of family hierarchy on motivating the participants to join gangs. Interpretive research philosophy indicates that reality can only be understood by subjective interpretation and intervention. An action research strategy was also used in an attempt to provide a practical solution for the people studied while adding to existing theories. The findings of the study indicated that there are 5 reasons why young people join gangs: protection, respect, money, fun, and because a friend was in the gang. This study may contribute to social change by identifying factors that lead to gang membership to aid policy and program interventions that lower the likelihood of youth joining gangs.