Micro-interaction dynamics of affective sanctioning have received insufficient attention when exploring the emergence of masculine identities and practices among gang members. We provide an analytical approach that places affective sanctioning at the heart of explanations of local masculine subjectivities. Affective sanctioning is a key method through which gang members facilitate successful face-to-face interaction via the constitution of shared group status markers as collective ‘goods’. Using empirical data contrasting two types of Glasgow gang groups, sharing contexts in which similar structural determinants operate, each embodies idiosyncratic modes of masculine identity, characterised by distinct hyper-masculine traits, which in turn constitute the group’s boundaries. Group markers emerge and are maintained by the constitutive force of individuals’ mutual susceptibility to affective inter-valuation practices. Here the acts of recognition and honouring, and dishonouring are the most socially significant affective sanctioning mechanisms. Our methodological investigation rests on an ‘intrinsic’ structuralist approach which prioritises micro-situational data over wider structural arrangements. We contrast this with ‘extrinsic’ models which dominate current gang scholarship and which tacitly view individuals as socialised ‘from the outside’. Our methodology and findings have profound implications for practitioners who must start from a recognition that individuals operate within the constraints of their emotionally bound group.