Evil doers from the 'hood or disenfranchised citizens? A critical analysis of the media representation of the MS-13 gang
thesisposted on 08.06.2021, 10:07 by Elena Megas
In the past decade and a half, the criminalization of MS-13 gang members in public discourse has operated to further marginalize and criminalize underprivileged urban youth, a segment of the populace already ridden by high levels of socio-economic exclusion. Using Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis method, this study explores the social construction MS-13 gang affiliated youth in mainstream media in Canada, the United States, and El Salvador. This study indicates that while the current gang research is becoming more critical, conceptualizing gangs as a crystallization of broader societal problems, the social construction of MS-13 gang members as permanent criminals is still predominant, as it circulates through all of the selected media. The criminalizing representation of MS-13 gang members has significant implications, as it justifies increasingly punitive policing strategies, which in turn validate the vilified construction of gang-affiliated youth, thus creating a vicious cycle in which gang members are deemed irremediable criminals.