GS202 Chapter Notes -Black Market
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March 1, 2013
6. Are the working conditions and pay of work in the underground economy (especially dealing
crack) comparable with work in the formal economy?
In the crack dealing community there is a constant sense of fear; fear of being arrested, fear of
robbery and fear of being killed. This makes many of the workers tense and anxious while
working but because of customers they must seem calm. These men also know if something goes
wrong they will be punished, in the legal world they would be fired but in the drug world they
would fear for their lives or the lives of loved ones.
It also places them in the cycle of substance abuse. To deal with the stresses of their working
lifestyle many use crack or other drugs to escape their circumstance. After work they tend to get
together with Ray also to go to a bar where they consume alcohol. It can be assumed if a worker
refuses a drink purchased by Ray it would be considered a disrespectful action and they could
lose their position or worse.
The underground world has a variety of positions (look out, dealers, customers, bosses, etc)
which all have a key role in a successful deal, these are often unskilled jobs and ones that require
a certain understanding of the drug landscape. Without these Ray would be unsuccessful. If
someone doesn’t fulfill their role (ex. Late or missing shifts) their hours are reduced. This is
similar to a legal job. However in opposition to a legal job two people in the same company
wouldn’t have different contracts for doing the same task as in the drug world. Personal issues
allowed Ray to pay the men on different terms because these men would never speak to each
7. What are some of their limitations of finding work in the formal economy?
One from a previous chapter would be literacy, Ray would be unable to find a suitable job which
provides adequate pay with his lack of reading skills.
Also the allure of making more money from the crack dealing than in a legal profession cause
some of the men to remain working illegally even if they were qualified. Once these men get
caught up in the cycle of dealing it seems impossible for them to escape this lifestyle.
8. How did his (Bourgois) presence influence the functioning of the crack house?
He describes his presence as a White man presence which often deterred crime beyond the
dealing of crack. He found that robberies didn’t happen in his presence because of his ethnicity,
the robbers may have assumed him to be an undercover cop and they therefore avoided
attempted robberies at this time.
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