Breaking the code of the street: extending Elijah Anderson's encryption of violent street governance to retaliation in Scotland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


The ‘code of the street’ is a theoretical framework concerning violent interaction. Its enactment on the street can be seen as illustrating a hegemonic masculinity. The typical setting where the code is pervasive is in disadvantaged urban communities. Those in thrall to the code's localised retaliatory edicts are usually young working-class males. Understandably, given the code's origins in the US ghetto, it is a US criminological research tradition which has stimulated the terms of this framework. Although European scholars have pursued theorising violence by recourse to the code, Scotland has not been studied, and the qualitative study reported here aims to remedy this. Based on these data, a behavioural code is evident in Scotland sharing characteristics with Anderson's original contribution, despite differences in terms of chronology and cultural setting. The study contributes to our knowledge of the life histories and personal theorisations of young offenders whose trajectories are arguably entrapped by forms of retaliatory justice and performances of a ‘protest’ type of marginalised masculinity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)634-648
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number5
Early online date20 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


Cite this