Topic: Ethnography review of “In search of respect: selling crack in El Barrio”
review代写 The ethnography which I have selected to review has been written by Philippe Bourgois by the name of “In Search…
The ethnography which I have selected to review has been written by Philippe Bourgois by the name of “In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio”. I will be reviewing the ethnography and share my understanding of the culture and life that prevails in East Harlem, which is called El Barrio in Spanish, hence the name. The author speaks about his experience of living in one of the poorest parts of one of the richest cities of the world; the city of New York.
He states that according to the census the people living in this part of the city should be living below poverty levels, and are suffering because they find it difficult to find their jobs. However, in order to find more about the people living there, he shifted to this part of the neighborhood for three years along with his wife, and had to gel in with the residents in order to get a clearer glimpse of their lives.
After moving to East Harlem, the author realized that the people were not living in as bad conditions as were depicted in the census, and the primary reason for this was the thriving drug business that was being carried out underground. Since there was more money to be gained through the illegal activity of selling drugs and the residents had to make ends meet by one way or another, they decided to support the “boss” as I would call him, the man who was the leader of the drug business. It took some time for the author to gain the trust of the people and actually get insight on how the society worked, as his white race made people vary of him.
Gang members thought that he might be a cop, whereas, cops thought that he was an addict.
Both perceptions helped him in remaining safe, and eventually find a seat with the big men, where he found out how things worked in this part of the neighborhood. Through his research and digging, he was able to ascertain, that people in East Harlem has difficulty in finding good paying jobs, as most of them were either Latinos, or from another race, and thus, had limited access to the services and facilities the state had to offer. Due to this, they had to face culture and language barriers, thus, making it difficult for them to communicate easily.
According to the author, lack of job opportunities was the main reason why residents of this area resorted to drugs and their distribution. It was only to earn money to make ends meet, and drug selling actually yielded far greater earnings than legal jobs which paid far less. The solutions that the author proposes is either to offer the residents better employment opportunities with higher paying jobs, so as to avoid the drug dealing business altogether. And gang violence was only limited to people who dealt with drugs, otherwise, the neighborhood was considered highly safe for its residents.
I think that after reading this ethnography, I can understand why the people have to resort to measures like drug dealing in order to meet ends meet. And I agree with the author that better job opportunities need to be provided to the residents so that this prevailing issue can be addressed and dealt with. From the author’s experience, it can be noticed that everybody keeps up pretenses in order to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, when in actuality, they are scared of what will happen. Therefore, this makes me think that nobody is in this business because they want to be, rather it is out of necessity.
Popular Ethnography Books, retrieved 18-3-18 from;
In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio. Philippe Bourgois. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 392 pp., Anthropology and Education Quarterly, retrieved 18-3-18 from;