The youth gangs in Bucaramanga: a social micro universe that needs to be understood and cared for

Project: Research Project

Project Details


The project will conduct an in-depth characterization of youth gangs in Bucaramanga. Studying this phenomenon is pertinent as these youth groups have been growing, sofisticating their ways of acting and being a source of concern for decision-makers and society in general. Clearly, the violent and criminal actions of some of these groups threaten citizen security, but this study will go beyond that approach and understand the problem from all its sociological dimension (through the recognition approaches of Paul Ricoeur and Axel Honeth). However, the project is particularly interested in Bucaramanga since, despite the studies carried out on gangs in Colombia, there are practically no approximations to the phenomenon in this area of the country, where empirical evidence reveals not only the increase of these groups and their conflictive action with similar groups, but also the existence of gangs exclusively female (quite atypical case).
The approach to this particular case is part of a more ambitious research agenda previously undertaken by the principal investigator of this proposal in Central America (with the study of Guatemalan maras). At present, the aim is to select other cases of gangs that have been little studied in different areas of Colombia and to carry out a comparative analysis of the different cases later, within the framework of a doctoral studies project.
This research will then contribute to fill the gap that exists in the literature, fundamentally resorting to ethnographic and field methodologies to achieve a deep and precise characterization, under the conceptual and theoretical rigor of scientific research, and in the projection of results that have a social relevance. Added to this holistic understanding, it will be possible to collect concerns from young people for the design of public policies and even promote strategies of entrepreneurship and empowerment from the base through concrete proposals. Executing this project is therefore relevant because it will allow us to understand, link and work together with young people and in particular with those who are in conditions of vulnerability and risk, being a key actor to take more accurate steps towards the conception of public policies that effectively address problems that facilitate the emergence of these groups or those that emerge through their existence.


Caracterización a profundidad de los principales rasgos de los parches, así como sus actividades más recurrentes según los roles de género. Lo anterior, a través de estrategias como espacios de participación ciudadana y grupos focales.
- Alianza y articulación con el programa Pazificándonos para diseñar estrategias que brinden alternativas a los jóvenes miembros de parches.
- Articulación con la mesa de expertos sobre pandillas juveniles a nivel nacional con el ánimo de incidir en el diseño de política pública.
- Transferencia del conocimiento a través de la postulación para publicación de un artículo en revista indexada nacional e internacional. Posibles revistas:  Urban Studies SAGE journals • q1 • UK •  Ethnography SAGE journals • q1 • UK •  Bulletin of Latin American Research Blackwell Publishing Inc. Nottingham Trent University • q2 • UK •  Journal of Latin America Studios Cambridge University Press • q3 • UK •  New Left Review - New Left Review Ltd. • q2 • UK •
Effective start/end date8/1/195/16/22

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Main Funding Source

  • Competitive Funds
  • Seed Capital


  • Bogotá D.C.


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