Code of the Street

Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City

Elijah Anderson (Author, Yale University)

Overview | Inside the Book

Unsparing and important. . . . An informative, clearheaded and sobering book.—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post (1999 Critic's Choice)

Inner-city black America is often stereotyped as a place of random violence, but in fact, violence in the inner city is regulated through an informal but well-known code of the street. This unwritten set of rules—based largely on an individual's ability to command respect—is a powerful and pervasive form of etiquette, governing the way in which people learn to negotiate public spaces. Elijah Anderson's incisive book delineates the code and examines it as a response to the lack of jobs that pay a living wage, to the stigma of race, to rampant drug use, to alienation and lack of hope.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • September 2000
  • ISBN 978-0-393-32078-7
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 352 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“A brilliant diagnosis of the internal factors that hold blacks back.” — Wall Street Journal

“One of the most interesting examinations of poverty, violence and sociology to emerge in recent years.” — Boston Herald

“One of our best ethnographers.... Anderson is excellent in explaining how the criminal element, through a numerical minority, comes to dominate public space.” — New York Times Book Review

“Important.... [Anderson] demonstrates, time and again, how optimism, ambition and decency can sprout in the most unlikely places, given even the slimmest chance.” — Newsweek

“Eloquent and moving.... A strikingly powerful work that rings with urgency.” — Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here

“This is the best treatment we have of the tormented inner life of young people wrestling with nihilism in a society indifferent to their plight and predicament.” — Cornel West

Also by Elijah Anderson All

  1. Book CoverThe Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life


All Subjects

Appropriate For