Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Mullins, Christopher


The purpose of this study is to gain a holistic understanding of the Asian gang phenomenon through the application of a meta-synthesis, which is seldom utilized within the criminal justice and criminology discipline. Noblit and Hare’s (1988) seven step guidelines for synthesizing qualitative research informed this methodology. Through this process, 15 studies were selected for synthesis. The synthesis of these studies not only identified prevalent themes across the sample, but also provided the basis for creating overarching metaphors that captured the collective experience of Asian gang members. Through the interpretive ordering of these metaphors, a line of synthesis argument was developed in which three major inferences about the Asian gang experience were made. First, regardless of ethnic and geographic differences, the experiences of Asian gangs and their members are similar. Second, although extant literature has applied different theories to explain gang membership for individual ethnic gangs (e.g. Chinese, Vietnamese), this synthesis revealed that the dominant theory for explaining the onset and persistence of Asian gangs is Vigil’s (1988) multiple marginality theory. Finally, in comparison to the broader literature, Asian gangs are more similar than they are different to non-Asian gangs because of their overlap in values.




This thesis is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.