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Young African-American Women, the Street Code, and Violence: An Exploratory Analysis

NCJ Number
Journal of Crime and Justice Volume: 29 Issue: 1 Dated: 2006 Pages: 1-19
Rod K. Brunson; Eric A. Stewart
Date Published
19 pages
This study examined young African-American women’s involvement in personal violence while living in a disadvantaged neighborhood and whether the street code thesis was useful for understanding violence among young African-American women living in distressed communities, as like young African-American males.
Drawing from accounts of young African-American women in an urban setting, findings suggest that the participants in the study adhere to the street code script, specifically, participants reported that they used violence to establish an identity on the street and earn a reputation. Having a reputation as violent was instrumental in young African-American women’s ability to acquire and maintain respect, safely enabling them to negotiate the challenging streets of Mt. Olive. The code of the street, developed in 1999, emphasizes maintaining the respect of others through a violent social identity, toughness, and exacting retribution when someone disrespects you. The more violent one’s social identity is, the more respect and street credibility he/she has among peers following street code. This study explored whether young African-American women used the street code script to construct violent identities for themselves, thereby establishing respect which allowed them to negotiate neighborhood dangers. Survey data and interviews with 24 African-American young women living in Mt. Olive, a disadvantaged neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois were used in the investigation. Table, notes, references


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