Review Of Philippe Bourgois's In Search Of Respect

Improved Essays
In the book, In Search of Respect, Philippe Bourgois, an anthropologist conducts an ethnography on the people of Harlem. As Bourgois noted in the introduction of his book, according to the Federal Census, almost ~40% of the people in Harlem are living under poverty. That is to suggest, that the people of Harlem shouldn't be able to sustain themselves given the income they earn. However, the people of East Harlem are able make ends need, therefore they must be adjusting their lifestyle in some way, such as operating an underground economy. For that reason, Bourgeois' initial intentions were to understand the underground economy of East Harlem, specifically drug dealing, as the first half of the book attempts to justify why Caesar and Primo became …show more content…
He then suggests that these world wide structural oppressions is the reason why Primo and Caesar does not have the appropriate cultural capital to work in the F.I.R.E. sector. Before the colonization, most Puerto Ricans were subsistence farmers which were very stable to begin with. When Puerto Rico was colonized, the government redistributed the land to U.S. corporations, and farms were then monetized by large corporations,drastically changing the lives of Puerto Ricans. Bourgois makes an assumption that Primo and Caesar’s parents were peasants and were affected by the sudden industrialization of Puerto Rico. Therefore, their parents immigrated to New York around the time of 1940s and 1950s, which at that time was an industrial capital. However, these jobs were then moved to oversea due to cheaper labor cost and lack of labor regulations. By 1987, “almost half a million factory workers lost their jobs as manufacturing employment dropped by 50 percent in New York City” …show more content…
First was the big migration of Puerto Rico, and the other was the global restructuring of capitalism. To clarify, the migration of Puerto Rico, placed Primo and Caesar in a disadvantage. Unlike the typical immigrant story, the moment Primo and Caesar entered New york, there was the restructuring of capitalism, as jobs were leaving New York City. Bourgois then questions the “Step Ladder” theory, which suggests that assimilation happens on a generation level similar to a ladder. However, the first rung of the ladder for Primo and Caesar disappeared right when Caesar and Primo entered the workforce. It seemed reasonable to Primo and Caesar to drop out of high school to become a factory worker. To repeat, Primo and Caesar did not drop out of highschool to deal drugs, but to commit to back-breaking occupation. However, in the eyes of Bourgois, he believes it is an economic

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