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ANTA02H3 Chapter Notes -Machismo, Youth Crew, Oscar Lewis

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Maggie Cummings

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In Search of Respect
Phillippe Bourgois
Jibaros: uprooted farmers and descendants of WWII, “hillbillies, stereotypical image,
2nd generation US born Inner-City. Reinvented and redefined by political and economic
Culture of Poverty Theory: Hypermarginalization: ??
Urban renewal program physical destruction of several square blocks of a functioning
working poor community.
Selling Crack: typical business organization
Physical space unpleasant
Leroy: elevator guy who got intimidated by a white female boss and she was scared of
Philippe faced dilemma when he heard about Caesar hurting Lucas because his own son
has cerebral palsy, contradiction of anthropology’s methodological caveat of suspending
moral judgment
Women in midst of carving greater autonomy and rights for themselves like rest of the
US. Men aren’t accepting the new role, lash out at women like ancestors in order to keep
the ‘patriarchal family style in tact
Eloping: big cultural institution allowing a teenage girl to resist her father’s domination
and to express her needs as an individual with rights.
Constant elopement = certain degree of bargaining power to women in rural community
or plantation neighbourhoods.
PRs are antisocial sociopaths because of early childhood experiences (family abuse,
When mothers take kids to the street it represents increase in child abuse and neglect
Women carving out a new public space for themselves, refusing to submit to old-roles
Street culture and underground economy provided men with an alternative forum for
redefining their sense of masculine dignity around promiscuity, conspicuous violence and
ecstatic substance abuse.
Solutions to inner-city poverty and substance abuse framed in terms of public policy
often appear naive or hopelessly idealistic

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Substance abuse is perhaps the dimension of inner-city poverty most susceptible to short-
term policy intervention.
Drugs are not the root problem, they are epiphenomenal expression of deeper, structural
Drug use is culturally constructed
Attempt to answer drug issue has to alter the economic imbalance between the rewards
of the legal economy versus those of the underground economy
Case of narcotics retail sale: Economic dynamism of drug economy must be reduced
Fragility and hostility of the entry-level legal labour market needs to be transformed
Cheapest and simplest way to wipe out the material basis for the most violent and
criminal dimensions of street culture is to destroy the profitability of narcotic trafficking
by decriminalizing drugs
Decriminalizing drugs would make drugs less accessible and attractive to youth because
it won’t be unique and they’d earn less
Dismantle hostile bureaucratic maze that punishes the poor for working legally
Poverty, substance abuse and criminality in East Harlem is product of state policy and
free market forces that have increases rising levels of inequality
Complex cultural and social dimensions beyond materialistic goods have to be addressed
by public policy if the socially marginal want to be equal in the US
Prioritize needs of women and children
Direct brutality against themselves and immediate community rather than structural
Fundamental ethical and political revaluation of basic socioeconomic models and human
Focuses on racial Segregation and social marginalization and alienation.
Underground (untaxed) economy (e.g. drug dealing)
oAllowed the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in neighbourhoods like East
Harlem to subsist with the minimal amenities that people living in the U.S.
considered to be basic necessities.

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oDifficulty of estimating the size of underground economy – let alone drug dealing
– is even thornier.
inner-city” street culture: a complex and conflictual web of beliefs, symbols, modes of
interaction, values and ideologies that have emerged in opposition to exclusion from
mainstream society.
French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s analytical category,cultural capital.
Street culture’s violence pervades daily life in El Barrio and shapes mainstream society’s
perception of the ghetto in a manner completely disproportionate to its objective danger.
Part of the reason is that violent incidents are highly visible and traumatic.
Michael Taussig:culture of terror” to convey the dominating effect of widespread
violence on a vulnerable society. One of the consequences of the “culture of terror”
dynamic is to silence the peaceful majority of the population who reside in the
neighbourhood. They isolate themselves from the community and grow to hate those who
participate in the street culture – sometimes internalizing racist stereotypes in the process.
Conversely, mainstream society unconsciously uses the images of a culture terror to
dehumanize the victims and perpetuators and to justify its unwillingness to confront
segregation, economic marginalization and public sector breakdown.
Social marginalization in El Barrio: Puerto Rico’s colonial quandaries and the streets of
East Harlem have always produced violent, substance-abusing fellows no matter what
immigrant ethnic group happened to be living there at the time.
Mafia has left a powerful institutional and ideological legacy on East Harlem by
demonstrating decisively that crime and violence pay, which is periodically reinforced by
mainstream society with the recurring financial scandals on Wall Street and in the
banking world.
One contemporary street-culture kinship arrangement is that women are obliged to
establish serial households with different men through their life cycles.
The contrast between Ray’s consistent failures at establishing viable, legal business
ventures versus his notable success at running a complex franchise of retail crack outlets,
highlight different cultural capitals needed to operate as a private entrepreneur in the
legal economy versus the underground economy.
Entry-level inner-city workers are hindered by the fact that the vocabulary used in office
work performance evaluations has no counterpart in street culture.
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