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Analysis of Code of the Street

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Analysis of Code of the Street

        This paper is an analysis of Elijah Anderson’s Code of the Street[1].     The book is a study of inner city life in some of the areas of Philadelphia, where one could observe and experience the inner city culture where there is a come apart between the majority who are referred to by the author as decent and the large minority who are referred in the book as “street.” Drawing from sociological perspective, Anderson’ goal  is basically to explain how the two groups of people mentally live in the community where they are considering the sociological, economic, and geographical factors.

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   The methods that the author used in on a micro-level approach where he tries to describe the the people living in the communities as described are doing on an everyday life basis. I have read chapters 1 and 2 for this book. Chapter 1 is about the Decent and Street
Family while Chapter 2 is about Campaigning for Respect.

       Anderson has explained in the book that the life of the two groups people living in the inner cities is somewhat governed by an unwritten set of rules that governs behavior.  At one extreme, are minority which includes the street-oriented group, who usually make up the criminal element of the inner city? Being casualties of the social and economic system, the extreme street group clinches the street code with all their hearts. Lacking also in decent education but not intelligence, Anderson described these people to as follow:

“…many pride themselves on living the “thug life,” actively defying not simply the wider social conventions but the law itself. They sometimes model themselves after successful local drug dealers and rap artists like Tupac Shakur and Snoop Doggy Dogg, and they take heart from professional athletes who confront the system and stand up for themselves.” (Anderson, page 36)

       Believing that people in real authority such as public officials to be unworthy of respect and hold little moral authority, these extreme people feel alienated and this fact causes radiate widespread disrespect for an extensive scheme of things since they consider people in authority to have  nothing but contempt for them. No wonder, these people are desperate and they have “a cynical outlook, and trust of others is severely lacking, even trust of those they are close to.”(Anderson, 37).  Given such attitude they consider the rests of persons and situations to be putting before them challenges to beat causing them to strategize by believing they should always outsmart others.

      At the other extreme are majority of the people on the inner city who are part of the decent family. This latter group has a real concern for the community and is characterized to have a certain amount of hope for the future that would further lead them to better life ahead of them.  The acceptance of the mainstream values by decent more fully than street families via instilling them in their children, may be attributed to have given the significant contribution of the decent family to society by producing generations in their young members. The great sense of sense of responsibility created in its younger members therefore allows the member of the decent family to be adjustable to external institutions including the schools and churches. These leave them therefore better adjusted to the community in which they live.  This positive development which are brought by value hard work and self-reliance by parent of decent family causes these children who will be members of the future generation of “harbor hopes for a better future for their children” rather “than dwelling on the hardships and inequities facing them” (Page 37)

      The concepts that may be inferred in the books include the realities of differences social behavior among different groups of people who are not similarly situated. Under normal circumstances, these groups of people will try to live in accordance with the rules they may create by defining what is acceptable and what is not acceptable but that they are part of society who are not just ready and willing to live with the set of rules.

To illustrate the author used the members of the decent family who are ready to comply with the set of rules while he used the extreme members of the street family who are suspicious of benefit that the set of rules of give to them.  Inherent therefore with trying to co-exist together between the different groups is the campaign for respect that author observed with the communities. Anderson noted that the inner-city environment respect on the street may be considered a structure of social capital that is useful and significant for the existence of the groups. The author thus saw the protective nature of the respect created as it could be the center of each person’s self esteem.

        I think the author is using micro more than macro sociological approach as the first concerns itself with the nature of everyday human social interactions that normally uses qualitative analysis as done by the author rather using statistics which is used in macro approach. The author’s description of certain families gravitates towards micro approach. As to how does micro sociological approach help bring issues forward and have voices from the neighborhood being heard, it may argued that this will provide the way how member of society find their differences and make the necessary adjustment that one may take into in order to live and survive with the community.

      The description and analysis of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods resemble any neighborhoods that I might have frequented. The fact that some people are more interested in feeding first their stomachs before the other needs of certain group of humans are confirmatory of how human try to struggle to live. The similarity therefore lies in the will for survival but the differences may be noted in the degree that behaviors are shown from different groups of people as to their coping mechanism  Different part of world have different level of economic development. In a society of affluence there is a certain part whose members are not.  In the case of Philadelphia,  the kind of life, typical of black minorities is evident where there is a struggle being exerted by  both groups. The more affluent one are not necessarily struggling since they are also practicing psychological and social adjustments with the communities they life. The poorer members who are part of the minorities have more struggles because they will have to exert more to attain economic satisfaction.

        To conclude, it is submitted that Anderson has presented an objective view of the Philadelphia’s population.  What is meant by objective view is whether the situation as described in the inner city in the book may be validated with to other areas of Philadelphia consisting of the analogous situation where the minorities are blacks. Another basis for confirming the validity of the author’s conclusion is also the validation of experience with minorities not only in Philadelphia but also in other parts of the United States.

        I am convinced of his description and analysis because of the fact the more affluent part of society have better values than more surviving. They value hope and good behavior and society while the extreme members of the street are only trying to survive and they may consider society as jungle for survivals. This sound logical as the latter may find less hope in finding better employment because of lack of education.  It is not difficult to accept that economic well being promotes social and psychological well being, too.

       I have learned many things from the book that I now understand hopelessness as a way of influencing people to the negative direction and how it will affect society if poorer people are not helped. Condemning poor people is not the solution because it will not address the cause. Give them hope and they become an asset of the community by first instilling hope which is the main ingredient of a dynamic society.


Anderson, E. Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City, W. W. Norton & Company (September 2000)

[1]Anderson, E. Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City, W. W. Norton & Company (September 2000)


Cite this Analysis of Code of the Street

Analysis of Code of the Street. (2016, Sep 23). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/analysis-of-code-of-the-street/

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