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The code of the streets by Elijah Anderson


The article “The Code of the Streets,” written by Elijah Anderson, convinces us that financial differences have formed a line between poor and rich societies. These differences then lead to a contrast in culture as well, while the article written by Valiquette, Anne, and Murray depicts the reality of a new subculture occurring in society.


In Anderson’s article, the terms “decent” and “street” are used for rich and poor, respectively. These labels, used by the people themselves, create the ground for evaluating judgments that talk about status. This labeling is often caused by a social contest among families and individuals. Decent inhabitants may consider themselves to be decent but consider others as street, and vice versa. Some circumstantial behaviors also play a role. These behaviors lead to the exhibition of both street and decent orientations at different times. Though these differences originate from social and racial discrimination, there are some aspects that describe each class, creating a social typology. Both families have different dealings with the code of the street. The dynamics of these families are perilous to the subtleties of the code. Understanding the fact that one family is distinct from the one found in the street is important. Street families give a lot of importance to blood relations. For them, the family comes first. According to them, blood is thicker than mud.

In contrast, the article “The New Tattoo Subculture” gives an ethnographic explanation of signs, symbols, and images by fashion and their prevalence in the culture. In this article, the author explains the four themes or subjects regarding the new culture of tattoos. These themes discuss the renaissance of the culture, extended self, risk, and addiction. The implications of tattooing are also the main things to note in the article. Humans have an urge to alter their physical appearance to synchronize with their internal identities. Out of many reasons, the one which is noteworthy is the expression of oneself in an image. People who wanted themselves to be tattooed requested images that depicted their inner selves. The article also explains how the tattoo subculture divides the standard society. The subculture signifies a way of life of a group of people and is characterized by interaction, continuity, and outsider and insider definitions of distinctiveness. This new subculture is adopted by both upper and lower-class families or concerning “The code of the streets” by both decent and street families. Individuals are attracted to this culture for the expression of distinction as well as integration. In this context, distinct domains are indicated by the tattoo culture to which its followers belong, as it depicts unity and is a source of connection with other domains. No matter what the class is, regardless of background, tattoos served as a common bond.

During the ethnographic process, customers were revealed to select tattoos to represent who they were in various ways, such as for showing their personal selves or for integration purposes. In both cases, there is an expression of identity, either personal or social. In the case of the representation of personal identity, there’s an example of an informant who allowed himself to be tattooed by 35 different artists and called his tattoos a scrapbook that represents his life story, and each tattoo indicates a person, place, or any of his experiences. An artist said that tattoos are present inside every person who wants to be tattooed; the artist just brings it out.


Hence, this new subculture does not draw a line between the rich and poor as stated in “The code of the streets.” In fact, it has been symbolized as means of unity, and bond. An individual or a group of people follow this trend or culture for representation of oneself or their whole community.

Works Cited

Anderson, Elijah. “The code of the streets.” Atlantic monthly273.5 (1994): 81-94.

Velliquette, Anne M., and Jeff B. Murray. “The new tattoo subculture.” Mapping the social landscape: Readings in sociology (1999): 56-68.



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