Code of the Street: Decency, Violence and the Moral Life of the Inner Cityby Elijah Anderson
Pub. Date: 09/28/2000
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Unsparing and important. . . . An informative, clearheaded and sobering book.Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post (1999 Critic's Choice)Inner-city black America is often stereotyped as a place of random violence, but in fact, violence in the inner city is regulated through an informal but well-known code of the street. This unwritten set of rulesbased largely on an individual's ability to command respectis a powerful and pervasive form of etiquette, governing the way in which people learn to negotiate public spaces. Elijah Anderson's incisive book delineates the code and examines it as a response to the lack of jobs that pay a living wage, to the stigma of race, to rampant drug use, to alienation and lack of hope.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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- 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Table of Contents
|Introduction: Down Germantown Avenue||15|
|Chapter 1||Decent and Street Families||35|
|Chapter 2||Campaigning for Respect||66|
|Chapter 3||Drugs, Violence, and Street Crime||107|
|Chapter 4||The Mating Game||142|
|Chapter 5||The Decent Daddy||179|
|Chapter 6||The Black Inner-City Grandmother in Transition||206|
|Chapter 7||John Turner's Story||237|
|Conclusion: The Conversion of a Role Model: Looking for Mr. Johnson||290|
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Code goes inside inner city Philadelphia, some of the roughest sections and reveals some of the mystique of black urban poverty. In describing the battle between decent values, the mainstream dreams of a honest, productive life with or without a nuclear family, and the street values, mostly eschewing these same decent values and replacing them with street survival tactics, Anderson clearly defines the struggle the inner city poor face. While the reader gets a good sense of the struggle, how the elements of poverty, violence, lack of opportunity and role models come together to keep these residents entrenched in the cycle, I was disappointed that Anderson touched little on proposed solutions to the catch-22. He briefly talked about increasing job opportunities with mention of political support. Indirectly, he suggested that policing of these neighborhoods needed vast improvement, though it wasn't clear what impact he thought that would make on the crime-ridden environment. The book is definitely good in making the reader think about the history of inner city poverty and its culture and where it seems to be leading, but it is both scary and depressing in the same way. I walked away pretty certain that the situation is likely to get much worse before it gets better and that seemed to be exactly what Anderson was out to say. Though it probably wasn't his intention to provide solutions, I think Anderson, as a revered and knowledgeable academic, would do a great service to these communities to extrapolate on some bigger social changes (as he suggested with job opportunities and political influence) and how these changes could work to change the communities and on a larger scale, our country.