Decent and Street People in the Code of the Streets by Elijah Anderson Essay

Decent and Street People in the Code of the Streets by Elijah Anderson Essay

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Short Paper Assignment 2
Throughout the article “The Code of the Streets,” Elijah Anderson explains the differences between “decent” and “street” people that can be applied to the approaches of social control, labeling, and social conflict theories when talking about the violence among inner cities due to cultural adaptations.
Anderson’s theory examined African Americans living in America’s inner cities that are driven to follow the “street code” and work to maintain respect, loyalty, and their own self-image. The “street code” Anderson is referring to is “a cultural adaptation” which is the cause of violent crime in America’s inner cities (Anderson Article PDF, 3). Since these people are living in mainly impoverished neighborhoods with easy access to drugs and guns, as well as high rates of crime and violence, “everyone feels isolated and alienated from the rest of America” (Vold, 187). Anderson continues to distinguish between “decent” people and “street people.” Those who are “decent” families live in accordance with a “civil code” that upholds values in comparison with the rest of society such as maintaining a job, obtaining an education, protecting their children and following the law. Additionally, “street” families tend to fend for themselves, and when young, grow up without adult supervision and are often abused. This alone causes a dangerous environment because children then, “learn that to solve any kind of interpersonal problem one must quickly resort to hitting or other violent behavior” (Anderson Article PDF, 5). When brought up in an inner city “street” family, racism is a leading factor that causes the youth to construct a negative outlook on the rest of society. When these inner city, lo...

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...y residents would most likely be categorized as a cultural theory because he focuses more on “the roles of ideas in causing criminal behavior” (Vold 184). Not only would I classify Anderson’s theory as a cultural theory due it its prominent argument crime is learned through association, but I would constitute “code of the streets” as a cultural control theory. One assumption Anderson is able to conclude is how “street” people justify their criminal behavior, such as the denial of responsibility as seen throughout the article when the criminals claim the victim should of known better. This directly correlates with the control theory concept that people naturally commit crime and it is the bonds we make and restraints we form which will inevitably categorize our behavior as “street” or “deviant”.

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