The Case Study Of Elijah Anderson's Code Of The Streets

955 Words 4 Pages
There have been many documented case studies of so-called ‘ghetto’ subcultures in the fields of both sociology and criminology. Researchers and novelists alike have sought to document the lives, experiences, and hardships of these socio-economically deprived neighborhoods in an attempt to understand the violence that is so often associated with the streets. Author Elijah Anderson sought to explain this very phenomenon in his 1999 book, entitled Code of the streets: Decency, violence, and the moral life of the inner city. This dissertation stands as an analysis of Anderson’s work Code of the Streets in relation to the criminological theories of deterrence; rational choice; biological; psychological; control; social learning and labeling. As …show more content…
The fear of this punishment may come from specific deterrence, which is punishment of the offender themselves as a result of previous criminal behavior; or general deterrence, which is punishment of others for criminal behavior (Akers et al., 2013; Dilulio, 2004). Evidence of said fear is lacking in Anderson’s account of inner-city society. Little thought appears to be given to legal sanctions by the youth perpetrating crimes or the community at large, as demonstrated by the idea that “[parents] worry often about the police…only because the family has come to rely on the drug money” (Anderson, p. 24) and that “neighbors are aware of [crack houses], but they are often demoralized, feeling there is little they can do about it” (Anderson, p. 81). There is obviously little fear of punishment from drug dealers in either of these situations, as law enforcement has failed to provide punishment in a severe, certain, or swift enough manner to deter criminal activity. However, Anderson did include one brief statement of general deterrence working within the inner city: “people may manage to quit [dealing]…when they confront death or jail (for themselves or for loved ones or friends)” (Anderson, p. …show more content…
Rational choice theory suggests that offenders will make a rational choice to commit a crime after determining that the potential rewards of said crime greater outweigh the risk or costs (Akers et al., 2013). Since there is little fear of legal reprimand, the costs of potential crime are greatly reduced, especially when the benefits include societal and psychic rewards, such as revenge; status; and monetary gain. Anderson conveys the use of crime to build one’s status in Chapter 2, when he writes that “when a person can take something from another and then flaunt it, he gains a certain regard by being the owner, or the controller of that thing” (Anderson, p. 75). Additionally, Anderson reports that despite the knowledge that it is wrong, drug dealers and muggers give nary a second thought to committing said crimes when the presumed financial gains are so high (Anderson, p. 76). Revenge is also a not an unheard-of motive for criminal behavior, as an individual’s need for ‘respect’ and status in essential for survival on the streets. Any disrespect or attack to their person is met with the rational decision to seek retribution through violent

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