The Code of the Streets

A review of Elijah Anderson’s The Code of the Streets.

This paper examines Elijah Anderson’s “The Code of the Streets” which introduces the idea that violence, aggression, stealing and other socially deviant behaviors are not perceived as infractions of rules, but rather conforming to a different standard, a different set of rules. Anderson does an adequate job of setting forth his ideas, along with providing sufficient evidence to support them. It criticizes Anderson’s perspective of street families and decent families when he describes inner city life and his portrayal of abusive mothers who beat their children and let them run riot.
The contrasts between street families, and decent families are not always easily observed. As Anderson points out, most street families appear on the surface to be decent families. (Anderson, p. 157) The appearance of having calm, respectful children is often what the mother wants most, more than happy children. (Anderson, p. 157) Her desire for such a family is often so strong that she is quick to beat her children if they defy her law. (Anderson, p. 157) Anderson concludes that this abusive behavior is often perceived as acceptable behavior within the inner city the disapproval from the wider society as a whole. (Anderson, p. 157)