Urban Experiences and “Street Code”

Modern urban youth is a unique society in which there are own rules. Life is even more different in the so-called “inner cities” – areas with low income and the predominance of minorities. To fully understand all the features of existence in such regions, it is necessary to immerse yourself in this life. For a person unprepared, it can be difficult and even dangerous. This threat, first of all, is due to ignorance of the “street code” – an unspoken set of rules following which social relations are carried out in these areas. A person who does not comply with the “code” runs the risk of becoming a victim of people who want to assert themselves at the expense of a stranger.

Fortunately, personal immersion in this life is not the only way to understand, as there are special studies and articles. The work of Anderson (1994) is significant and stands out precisely because it explores in great detail the essence of urban youth interactions in “inner cities” through a “street code” perspective. Thanks to this article, researchers of this topic do not need to dive into this environment independently. Anderson (1994) emphasizes several vital aspects: the division of families into decent and street. It also highlights the importance of the concept of respect, and how to obtain it and maintain one’s image.

This allows one to get an idea of what drives young people, what values they place above all else, and what they are ready to do to achieve what they want. For example, Anderson’s (1994) analysis shows that, in earning the respect of others, many adolescents neglect the fear of death, which is the most courageous act from the perspective of this society. Such an approach to interactions, based on raising the stakes and risky activities for the sake of image, explains the high crime rate of the “inner cities”. Thus, the depth of analysis in this article allows for exploring in detail the life of these regions from the inside and gaining invaluable knowledge about the causes and principles of the functioning of these societies.

Elijah’s story is the clearest example of the life of families in the “inner cities.”. Many of the elements of this guy’s story fit in with existing concepts about living in a similar environment. Living in constant violence and cruelty from a very early age leads to developing such traits in children who observe it all. This is reflected in Elijah and his experience while living in New Orleans. Death and violence were familiar to him and could be seen anywhere, even at the doorstep of one’s own home (Putnam, 2015). From my point of view, exposure to such a life of children at an early age leaves an indelible imprint on them, which will not only determine a person’s life in principle but will also be transmitted to future generations. For example, while Elijah speaks positively about his theoretical children, he considers it normal to beat them up if necessary (Putnam, 2015). This is because it happened to him all the time and was an effective way to get his parents’ point across.

Accordingly, violence is an integral part of such life, even for people who are actively trying to change. Unlike many of his peers, Elijah is much calmer and more outgoing (Putnam, 2015). However, he grew up with his cousin as a role model, threatening everyone with a weapon. This upbringing has penetrated deeply into Elijah’s mind and cannot be eradicated even if he is moved to another habitat. From my perspective, this story demonstrates how cruelty is associated with living in these areas and how hard it is to give it up when everything around encourages the continuation of such a life. This group’s experience of living in urban families in such areas is closely related to various forms of violence: verbal, physical, and deadly. Thus, the order prevailing in these areas is a massive problem that massive long-term measures can only resolve.


Anderson, E. (1994). The code of the streets. The Atlantic. Web.

Putnam, R. D. (2015). Our kids: The American dream in crisis. Simon & Schuster.

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