Selling Crack : By Philippe Bourgois Essay

1866 Words 8 Pages
In Search of Respect: Selling crack in El barrio, written by Philippe Bourgois, is a compelling ethnography about the lives and struggles of Puerto Rican immigrants living in East Harlem, New York. Bourgois moved his wife and infant child to live in amongst the streets of East Harlem, referred to also as Spanish Harlem or El barrio, to actively participate in the community to get a better understanding of the underground untaxed economy (p.1). Bourgois in the years he lived in East Harlem established relationships with a group of around 24 drug dealers and their families (p.2) and obtained information through means such as “taped conversations, hundreds of nights in crack houses, … went to parties and intimate reunions” (p.13). This total immersion allowed Bourgois, through his fieldwork, to create relationships which would reveal detailed information about their real life experiences. Through participant observation Bourgois was able to understand the complexities and intricacies of street culture and be sure that the information given through casual conservation was honest. Unlike Bourgois, many anthropologists would have avoided study of this type of culture as it is riddled with taboo subjects such as abuse, rape, addiction, self-destruction and violence. Bourgois’ fieldwork did have weaknesses such as the difficulty and importance of establishing and maintaining trust with participants as there were only a limited number of relationships and each was extremely valuable.…

Related Documents