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Code of the Street Elijah Anderson

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1330 words Published: 12th Jul 2017

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The book, “Code of The Street”, by Yale Professor Elijah Anderson puts in light the various issues that are common in the city today. The street codes majorly affect the actions and behavior of many youths in the inner city. In the inner city, Anderson shows that there are many social evils like high rates of unemployment, teenage pregnancy. The main force contributing to these street codes according to him is racism though that kind of behavior is accelerated by the existing economic and political commands in the city (Anderson 34).

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The Code of Street applies to the behavior for the public and is a norm for the community which is alienated (Anderson 69) .if these codes of conducts within the street are not fully immersed into the lives of the young they tend to switch to the behaviors that they find on the street, Learning of the street code starts early in one’s life from his or her parents to the street families who introduce them to such codes. Parents don’t take role in tending their children leaving them to do it themselves (Anderson 49).

The code of the street is worrying according to the sociologist Anderson as it is attributed to ills like increased rate of crime, stress, drug trafficking and all forms of violence with ultimate result of death. The urban life within the ghettos majorly contributed to the street codes. He brings out clearly the issue of respect .According to Anderson, the codes of the street is majorly affected by the poor dwellings the youth live in .In addition to the environment they live in (Anderson 50).

The inner city is seems to be morally decayed as it lacks role models to be copied by the youth and the economy favors few people. With the relocation of the creators of employment to oversee leaving the youth idle within the inner city .Comparing the middle class and the lower class males of the lower class are involved in rebellious acts. Another factor is frustration of the disadvantaged youth led s to adaptation of the street codes. The inner city families were described to be decent with good values while the street families excluded themselves from the greater society Apart from the two types of families being distinct they greatly interact on the streets. Also in the schools, open public’s areas are other places where these people interact. (Anderson 54).

The major determining factor of how people behaved lied on the families values one is brought up with those brought up in the decent homes have proper street codes ,while those of the street families were viewed as those found like drug to commit ills like drug trafficking and all negativities of the neighborhoods like murder and violence .People fought and even shot each other to acquire respect .Lack of respect could render one to be tried by his or her peers and to the extreme the strangers. Respect was used as a measure of one’s credibility within the streets. Ethics of hard work, appreciating religion and achievements in the academics were considered as respectable action within the streets. (Anderson 45).

According to Anderson, teens became pregnant because they don’t know the implication of having sex. For the adolescents, they became pregnant knowingly or sometimes not knowingly. The males portray a behavior of escapism of responsibilities’ and most times the females are left to take care of their children without father figure or sometimes get a helping hand from their family members. Many men or fathers deny the fatherhood to their children especially if they doubt their fatherhood to that child or the character of the mother may cause this. Anderson conducted ethnography study in Philadelphia in 1990 where he studied African Americans in certain classes within the city coupled with his observation (Anderson 43).

According to Anderson (2000), the people in the mainstream society have proper values that don’t allow them to retaliate after an attack rather they move away from the areas of fight. This makes them uphold their self esteem (Anderson 34) .This is a show of respect. Their counter parts on the other hand cant suffer the humiliation of walking away all in all they have nothing to lose as their status is low .Those from the low status communities want to uphold their respect even though it calls for the fighting to show how they are they can attack their counterparts

The methods used in this research include survey whereby various households were sampled and the youth in those families who were capable of being interviewed were interviewed to gather information from them. This could help in giving the data collector an insight on the youth violence. The youth by the time they are teen, they learnt these codes, make them part and parcel of their life’s and thus the survey conducted on the youth in their adolescence is valid (Anderson 83).

In the society classes i.e. middle and lower classes, Anderson interviews the subjects of target whom are faced with the daily decadency of the urban ills ranging from teens pregnancy, child delinquency and family disagreement. Anderson the code of street heroes is those that overcome the streets temptations to have a brighter tomorrow for the future people

Findings according to Anderson show that peer aggression, having been a victim of violence and type of parenting are associated with the following and obeying the street code related to beliefs. Those who have ever been victims of a circumstance tend to refrain from the bad codes. Also anger is a contributing factor to the adherence of these codes. Though being involved in prior victimization might be seen as a factor towards the adherence of the codes, it isn’t. Instead it makes the victim learn from the prior experience (Anderson 70).

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Several matters have made the scope of this study to be limited .First; the subculture thesis assessment according to Anderson is not dealt in depth. There is dire need to do in-depth investigation on this thesis. Anderson just gave a highlight .more need to be added especially on the code switching, how the people take their authorities that instill these behaviors. To add on that, the role of race in bringing out the belief related codes and the contributing to the youth violence is not clearly brought out. The youth violence is not only attributed to the blacks even the other races are victims of it.

Also other factors like poverty coupled with the few opportunities could still contribute to this. Finally, the findings are more side lined on male youth violence. To the male youth, even some cliques of inner city girls are found to incite the infighting (Anderson 92). At this juncture, gender role in not clearly brought out in the contribution to the youth violence.

In conclusion from the studies, it shown that the beliefs in our traditional subcultures contribute a lot in the violent behavior among the youth. Violence is more prevalent with those follow those beliefs that are in agreement with the street codes. Though it is not possible to get the etiology of these code beliefs but it is seen that the way one is socialized, the role models one looks up to and the parental upbringing matters (Anderson 97).

Those youth who claim lack of future for them and had prior victimized tend to acquire the aggressive behavior in future. Also the way of parenting is also a factor where by those parents who are aggressive to their children tend to acquire violent behaviors from them. Then they will be the pioneers of all the crimes, violence in the society. Thus provision of future opportunity to our youth is of great importance as well as personal protection especially parent to their children (Anderson 120).

Work Cited

Anderson, Elijah. Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000.


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