Analysis of Code of the Streets-Sociology

Analysis of Code of the Streets-Sociology - Kayla Murphy-...

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Kayla Murphy- Soci 3820 10:10 MWF Code of the Street Reaction Paper Elijah Anderson’s book Code of the Street focuses on a distinct issue of the differences between families who are street and families who are decent. Decent families are typically two- parent households headed by a father and adhere to traditional middle class values. The decent father expects to be treated with respect and deference by his wife and children. Rules are very strict in the decent household; disobedience will result in harsh punishment. Children are discouraged from fraternizing with children from street oriented families for fear that they will negatively influence the decent child. Good grades and regular school attendance is expected of the decent child. Parents often work multiple jobs to make ends meet. It is a point of pride to not receive welfare. Anderson explains that “Probably the most meaningful description of the mission of the decent family, as seen by members and outsiders alike, is to instill “backbone” and a sense of responsibility in its younger members.” The decent family remembers the way their community used to be, prior to the loss of jobs and crack cocaine epidemic. Their goal is to create opportunities for social mobility for their children and help restore their community to its former glory The street family is typically a single parent household headed by a single mother with a boyfriend or other male companion. There is little structure within these households and misbehavior from children meets no consequences. Children and teenagers may stay out very late at night, even on school nights. Children raised in street-oriented families are less likely to continue onto higher education and work steady jobs. Instead, most of them turn to the drug trade which their family members or friends are also involved in. Their role models become local drug dealers. The drug trade presents them with an opportunity to make more money than possible by working in a menial, minimum wage job.
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Relations between street and decent families can be very strained, and tension between the two frequently erupts. Children from decent families are taunted and teased by their street peers for going to school or carrying their books. This harassment can take the form of physical bullying. According to Anderson “most decent parents encourage their children to hit back if challenged, particularly if the child is backed into a corner.” Such a situation highlights the ability of most decent families to “code-switch.” Code-switching is the ability of a resident to “behave according to either [decent or street] rules depending on the situation.” Individuals must be decent in the workplace, but adhere to the code of the street when necessary in order to protect oneself and one’s family. Anderson describes how necessary code-switching is as “In order to live and function in the community, [decent people] must adapt to a reality that is often dominated by people who at best are suffering severely in some way and who are apt to resort to
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This note was uploaded on 01/19/2012 for the course SOCI 3820 taught by Professor Stephenwatson during the Spring '11 term at University of Georgia Athens.

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Analysis of Code of the Streets-Sociology - Kayla Murphy-...

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