In Search of Respect: Ch. 4 Notes

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Published on 23 Mar 2012
Chapter 4: Goin’ Legit: Disrespect and Resistance at Work ANTA02
Almost everyone in Ray’s network had history of working legally at young age
o By the time most were 21 they had failed to keep a legal job
Structural problem of legal jobs:
o When Puerto Ricans were moving into factor based economies on New York, when
those jobs were becoming obsolete
o Factory jobs have been drastically reduced while service jobs have increased
o Finance, Real estate and Insurance jobs took over (FIRE)
According to the author, the made a cultural clashing effect
o Puerto Ricans found it difficult to function in upper-middleclass white world where they
have to show public obedience contradict with street culture for personal dignity
Males are socialized to not accept public subordination
Resistance, Laziness, and Self-Destruction
Dealers see leaving the legal world as rebellious, but want to go back to legal world all the time
They hate the working conditions and pay, but fear they are themselves lazy or incompetent
Caesar liked to be in control, when he makes money illegally he does what he wants with it
o He makes very little, but it’s enough to do what he wants (drugs)
o When he had a legal job he did crack and was taxed heavily
First Fired Last Fired
No one in Ray’s network considered themselves victims because they lived in a bubble where
the underground economy was the norm
o Were not aware that they were socially and economically disadvantaged
Primo was unaware of the economy’s impact on him finding a job, which led him to blame his
counselor for not finding a job
o Market hits vulnerable labourers the most
Primo was structurally marginalized, economy made it hard to find a job and he was getting too
old for the jobs he was applying for
His confidence took a hit, became frustrated and turned to drugs
Internalizing Unemployment
Primo escalated his drug use when he couldn’t find a job
Enforced patriarchal principle of family discipline by lecturing girlfriend about not getting a job
o This was odd because in patriarchy, man is supposed to work
Puerto Ricans had one of the lowest labour force participation rates
Caesar saw dealing as and street culture as something to be proud of, they were rebelling from
traditional society
Crossover Dreams
Cultural capital allows people to interact with credibly with middle-class society
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Chapter 4: Goin’ Legit: Disrespect and Resistance at Work ANTA02
Both Caesar and Primo dreamed of becoming legit
o Were superstitious and about new jobs
Different cultural capital is needed for underground and legal economy
o Ray was good at operating underground but bad at legal (couldn’t open deli)
Ray was seen as competent in administer violence, assessing customer demand, and disciplining
Why Primo failed as repair entrepreneur:
o Stereotype barriers
Customers wouldn’t want his help because they didn’t trust Puerto Ricans
o Jibaro reciprocal obligation and principles
Didn’t want to go to author’s mother’s house alone b/c he didn’t know her and
didn’t know how to charge her for repairs b/c she made dinner for him
Pursuing the Immigrant’s Dreams
Many Puerto Ricans in New York were channeled into marginalized economic sector (factories)
o Many dropped out of high school to pursue immigrant dream: hard working, macho
factory job for a steady wage
Most dropped out of high school to work at factories that quickly closed down
Between 60s and 80s, there was 50% drop in factory employment
o But they didn’t feel like victims of structural transformation
Family told them to they have to go to school or work
Men believed in dignity of hard work rather than school
Dropping out of school to work is very attractive for poor children because you get money
Shattered Working=class Fantasies in the Service Sector
Dream of macho long shifts and steady wages has been replaced by underpaid and feminized
office support service work
There’s a conflict between cultural dignity and humiliating subordinate service work
Street culture machismo is expected in factory work, where you need to be masculine and resist
the man
o But it is not good in office environment where there’s a different culture where people
are humble and obedient
People from street culture find it difficult to act in appropriate ways in offices, they can never
move up in position
*Main argument in book is that street culture haven’t passively accepted their structural
o They use street culture to seek alternative to their social marginalization
o They become agents of their own destruction and community suffering
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