In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio

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In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio

Philippe Bourgois book In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio was published in 1995, and discussed his experiences of authors living in El Barrio (East Harlem). In 1985 the writer moved to this district of New York City with the purpose of studying the impact of imposed racial segregation and economic marginalization on the inner city Puerto Rican population (intro pg.1). An interesting new insight into the street culture found in New York was captured in this book. The amount of poverty in this portion of our country is much higher than that in most other areas. Bourgois presents the theory "culture of poverty" which seems to argues that poor people share deviant cultural characteristics. The poor have lifestyles that differ from the rest of society and that these characteristics perpetuate their life of poverty. The poor are qualitatively different in values and these cultural differences explain continued poverty. He argues that this neighborhood, which is well known for high rates of violence, does not have widespread violence occurring amongst all of its members. The higher crime rate, argues Bourgois, occurs for the most part within the factions of the underground economy, and social relationships. With an unbiased sight the author looks at the underground economy, from baby sitting, off-track betting, to drug dealing, as these were the means which most of the families living in El Barrio were able to survive.

This book is generally a synopsis of the events that occurred during Bourgois stay in El Barrio. The original purpose of the book was to write a first-hand account of racial prejudice and ethnic segregation in the heart of one of the worlds largest cities. Bourgois was swept into the area drug economy because of the abundance of information from the dealers and their families who all lived within the immediate area. Most of the accounts given in the book come from a single crack...
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