Bad Boys, Big Trouble: Subcultural Formation and Resistance in a Cambodian Village

Melina T. Czymoniewicz-Klippel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This article explores the experiences of adolescent males in Cambodia who, simultaneous to their maltreatment and marginalization within the family and community, have reduced opportunities to produce identities of sociomoral value through access to cultural capital. It draws on ethnographic data gathered from adolescents boys aged 9 to 16 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, through in-depth interviews and participant observation. The article examines why and how these so-called bad boys are forming gang subcultures as a site of resistance, stressing their role as social actors who make competent and considered lifestyle choices as per their social constraints and opportunities. Gang membership is demonstrated to offer bad boys varying benefits. Yet significant individual and societal risks also arise from these boys' gang involvement. In conclusion, therefore, it is advocated that development practitioners work with bad boys through, rather than against, their subcultures, supporting them to identify alternative means of negotiating social inclusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-499
Number of pages20
JournalYouth and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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