Phillipe Bourgois book,
In Search of Respect
, is an ethnographic study of social
marginalization in inner-city America. The initial critical argument for Bourgois is the
idea that many of the inner-city residents are not able to achieve the “American dream,”
due to the social marginalization of our country. Then as his writing unfolds, it is
illustrated that the actual dealers of El Barrio place more of the blame on themselves than
on the political system of the country. He uncovers the hidden life of the crack dealers in
El Barrio, and is therefore able to demonstrate the often-misunderstood life of inner-city
culture. Primary factors that convey this are the first hand accounts of the dealers’
thoughts, ambitions, and fears. The fieldwork conducted and presented in this
anthropological novel holds a great significance, and is the primary tool used by Bourgois
to stress the social marginalization in inner-city America.
Bourgois realized quickly that a vast difference existed between the town he was
living and the majority of communities of America was realized when he was personally
assaulted by the police. Bourgois stated that many officers stopped, searched, harassed,
and humiliated him on a regular basis.
In the book, Bourgois describes a particular
incident where two officers verbally abused him, despite his many attempts to treat the
police with courtesy.
They threatened to have him apprehended if he were found
roaming the streets, and the officers even went so far as to encourage him to “buy his