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Urban Social Organization Impacts.

Urban Social Organization Impacts.


In the ethnography “Decent and Street Families: Violence in the Inner City,” the author examines the social organization of urban communities, specifically focusing on two distinct orientations: the “decent” and the “street.” This division significantly impacts the coexistence and interaction within these communities, particularly affecting children growing up in the inner city. This essay will analyze how this organization of social life unfolds in the ethnography, making specific references to the text.
The ethnography portrays the “decent” orientation as a set of norms, values, and behaviors that align with mainstream societal expectations. Decent families adhere to conventional norms, prioritize education, and seek stable employment. They aim to create a nurturing environment for their children, emphasizing the importance of education to escape the inner city’s challenges. The author illustrates this orientation by highlighting the experiences of families like the Johnsons, who work diligently to maintain stable households and provide for their children’s well-being. For instance, when describing Mrs. Johnson’s efforts to secure a job and support her family, the author demonstrates the commitment of decent families to social mobility (Venkatesh, 1997).
Conversely, the “street” orientation reflects different values and behaviors characterized by criminal activities, violence, and limited engagement with mainstream institutions. Street-oriented individuals often become entangled in illegal economies, such as drug dealing, which can lead to dangerous confrontations and criminal behavior. The ethnography provides numerous examples of street-oriented families, such as the Jacksons, who are deeply entrenched in illicit activities, illustrating the challenges faced by those living this lifestyle. The author emphasizes how street families face constant threats to their safety and well-being, as violence is pervasive (Venkatesh, 1997).
The organization of social life in the inner city, as depicted in the ethnography, plays out in various ways. First, it highlights the stark contrast between the “decent” and “street” orientations, emphasizing how these two worlds coexist within the same community. This duality creates a complex social landscape where residents must navigate between these two modes of existence. Children growing up in this environment are exposed to conflicting values and role models, leading to identity conflicts and choices that shape their futures.
Additionally, the ethnography sheds light on the consequences of this social organization, particularly for children. Those raised in decent families have a better chance of escaping the cycle of poverty and violence. The author emphasizes the role of education as a key factor in this process, showing how decent families prioritize it as a means of upward mobility. In contrast, children in street families face a higher risk of becoming involved in criminal activities and experiencing violence. The ethnography illustrates this through the experiences of individuals like C-Note, who is deeply entrenched in the street lifestyle from a young age, leading to a bleak future (Venkatesh, 1997).
In conclusion, the ethnography “Decent and Street Families: Violence in the Inner City” vividly portrays the social organization of urban communities based on the “decent” and “street” orientations. This division has significant consequences for the coexistence and interaction of residents, particularly for children growing up in the inner city. By examining specific examples from the text, we see how these orientations shape the lives of individuals and families, impacting their chances of social mobility and the risks they face in this challenging environment.

Urban Social Organization Impacts.





Times New Roman, double spaced. Two and half pages to three pages long. Use references from book.

Two orientations- decent and street-organized the community socially, and the way they coexist and interact has important consequence for its residents particularly for children growing up in the inner city.

How does this organization of social life in urban places play out in this ethnography?

Make specific references to the text when giving your answer.

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