Code of the Street Anderson in "Code Term Paper

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Code of the Street

Anderson in "Code of the Street" seeks to highlight many of the ills and problems that seem to plague inner-city African-American families and communities, and highlights aggression and interpersonal violence as the most prominent factors (p. 171). The propensity for violence, according to Anderson predisposes 'a cultural adaptation' that has hampered growth and development within this particular part of society. Following is an examination of The Code of the Street by Elijah Anderson. The examination seeks to determine the proposed hypothesis, dependent and independent variables, source of the data, methodology and analysis, and whether or not the author serves to effectively answer the hypothetical questions posited.


Anderson takes an ethnographic approach in looking at the culture of what he determines as control, respect and violence in inner city streets. According to Philipsen in "Speaking Culturally: Explorations in Social Community" ethnography is a qualitative research design with the expressed goal of "exploring cultural phenomena which reflect the knowledge and system of meanings guiding the life of a cultural group" (12). In Anderson's essay, he maintains that because of the cultural adaptation to the violence that besieges the community, this kind of environment puts the young people within the community at increased risk for the continuation and escalation of violence and is severely impact by socioeconomic factors inclusive of a low number or lack of sufficient job opportunities, racism and the stigmatization associated with it, increased drug abuse and crimes related to drug distribution and disenchantment with hopes for a better future (171). Anderson acknowledges that there are those within the community who aspire toward middle class values, ideals and a 'decent' way of living' however, the counterculture of street life or 'the streets' serves to undermine the middle class mindset so many of the 'decent people in the community' seek to maintain. Because of this dichotomy of wills, the children who are raised in homes with middle class ideals must be able to survive within the counterculture of street life. They must know the language, codes, and have a certain kind of street orientation and creditability in order to sustain within this dichotomous environment.

These informal rules that make up the street code dictate many of the interpersonal relationships that transpire outside of the family home. For those who have a strong propensity towards violence, the code of the streets allows them to exercise their violent tendencies and even reinforces this kind of behavior by the increased status associated with being violent (Anderson 172). It is important to note, according to Anderson, is that understanding and ultimately abiding by the code is not offensive but more of a necessary defensive measure as those who tend to precipitate the violence do so particularly with those who fail to abide by or are unaware of the code of the streets.

The underlying or foundational premise behind the code of the streets is respect based on the status and deference required of the position that an individual holds derived from the violence and mayhem they have perpetrated within the community. Because this much desired respect does not come from an internal fortitude, it is seen by the youth in the community as an external process that must be readily protected (Anderson 172). If an individual fails to adhere to the code and respect those that are due respect, more respect is earned by that person by responding violently to the 'diss' or lack of respect. There is a notable link in Anderson's estimation that because of the lack of respect from mainstream or the racial majority within the larger society, street creditability and earning respect through the code on the street is often the only viable…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Philipsen, G. Speaking Culturally: Explorations in Social Communication. Albany, New

York: State University of New York Press. 1992. Print.

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