Cross-Cultural Comparison of the Code of the Street
This is one of the core chapters of this book. After describing the national peculiarities, the main findings are presented and cross-culturally compared and reflected in the context of the street code. The aspects, social space/neighborhood, street etiquette, symbols, toughness/masculinity, friends, respect, enemies, and violent perception are addressed. The goal of this approach is not just a documentation of the main findings but also a stepwise comparison of these topics in the three countries. This allows for presenting a wide range of various aspects, but also a description and discussion of similarities.
KeywordsCross-cultural comparison Youth violence Code of the street Urban sociology
9.1 Introduction into the Discussion About Findings of the Cross-Cultural Comparison
The core of the study is the cross-cultural comparison of youth violence, guided by the theoretical framework of the code of the street. As the reports of the single countries showed, the level of violence differs significantly among the cases. It is questionable if the code operates in a general way, as Anderson claims. However, it is not our purpose to reject the concept of the code, but to determine if it is a global concept, or limited more to a specific kind of neighborhood in the US, or that only a few elements are applicable at the global level, and if so, what to consider for developing a more general approach. Therefore, we compare our data only regarding the core dimension of the code of the street. Similarities and dissimilarities are uncovered and analyzed through the results per code element and country. This is the empirical heart of the entire study.
The analysis is based on a close reading of the book Code of the Street by Anderson (1999). The core elements of the street code have been extracted from the book, these being: neighborhood perception, street wisdom, respect, enemy, toughness/masculinity, interpretation of symbols, friends, and perception of violence. Once isolated, we translated these elements into guidelines for interviews with male juveniles between 16 and 21 years and conducted 30 qualitative interviews in risky neighborhoods in each of the three comparative countries, being, Germany, South Africa, and Pakistan. Analysis of these interviews enabled us to compare the core elements of the code of the street in these disparate countries.
9.2 Comparison of the Core Elements of the Code of the Street
To facilitate this, first, we aim to compare the data from the three countries with the original codes as suggested by Anderson himself and deconstructed in Chap. 3. Our intention is not to disprove or criticize these elements, but rather to explore whether they have applicability—and if so, to what extent—in contexts that are both geographically, demographically, and socioeconomically very different to those of Anderson’s original study. Derivative of this, second, we also compare the data sets deduced from each of the three countries with one another, to highlight the similarities and differences that were found. By contextually embedding these data using the structure of the original elements of the street code, we critically engage with the literature and with the data to posit how the different violence-related norms have gained currency and legitimacy in the three contexts under focus. With this in mind, this chapter is primarily structured using the codes themselves, with each country’s data then presented under each code, before a comparative analysis is extracted from these.
The analysis is structured in three parts. The first analyses the perception of the spatial framework. Therefore, the element “Social Space/Neighborhood” is discussed in detail. The second step is the analysis of the moderating elements, street wisdom, interpretation of symbols, toughness/masculinity, friends, enemy, and respect. The third section places the outcome of the street code, being the element “perception of violence” directly under the spotlight.
9.3 Perception of Risky Neighborhoods
9.3.1 Comparison of Social Space/Neighborhoods
In all the sites, the perception of the neighborhood in which the participants were living was a dominant theme that quickly emerged from the interviews. Such perceptions were understood internally and externally—the former a perception of who individuals were by virtue of being residents in a particular area, the latter relating to the perceptions the interviewees thought outsiders had of them as a result of being residents of these areas. For instance, the young men mentioned that the image of neighborhoods is represented in the media, including newspaper and social media, as well as colloquially as “risky neighborhoods.” Such perceptions both stigmatized residents and undermined their ability to engage with the larger socioeconomic dimensions of the city—such stigma, for instance, could prevent them from being considered for an employment opportunity simply because of the area in which they resided. In a similar fashion, Anderson (1999: 161) cited the findings of Sherman et al. (1989) that people from “bad” neighborhoods tend to mix socially with others from equally “bad” places. Talking about the stigmas attached to them by outsiders, the young men mentioned that they had to face discrimination outside their neighborhoods simply because of where they lived. The findings of the study revealed that neighborhood processes influence the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents. In the interviews, the respondents reported many neighborhood processes, including for instance, unlawfulness and delinquency in areas they live. Interestingly, regardless of the high crime rates and the media’s perceptions and images, young men have expressed a feeling of belonging to their neighborhoods, and in contrast that outsiders and the media paint a negative image of the neighborhoods. Respondents from Germany repeatedly acknowledged the ethnic diversity in their neighborhoods. Although, some respondents mentioned “other” ethnic groups involved in crime and drug dealing in the neighborhoods.
We are well educated. Well, [you] see here everyone, we are Turkish, Arabs, let say Bulgarians, Gypsies, we live together here. […] We don’t have money, we try to earn money by working. […] I would never move from here. (Duisburg-Marxloh 5)
In Neukoelln Kreuzberg I have a lot of friends with whom I am good. Mostly, I don’t have good relations with guys from outside [of Neukoelln]. (Berlin-Neukoelln 1)
(Now) there are Arabs who say, ah, I am ashamed of the Arabs. […] For me they are gypsy Lebanese. They are filthy, they do criminal acts, there are good and bad Lebanese like good Albanians and bad Albanians. (Duisburg-Marxloh 6)
[…] and now Bulgarian and Romanian are also in here. For example, they broke into our garden and stole some stuff. So, there is a corner full of these people where the streets stink of urine. […] For me it’s ok but I can imagine, I would never go there as woman or someone […] without confidence. (Duisburg-Marxloh 9)
When you know somebody or when you made you a name yourself. […] When the people know you, nobody attacks you. (Duisburg-Marxloh 3)
In my case they all know me here in Wedding. […] They know my brothers and they respect my brothers. That’s why they don’t do anything to me. (Berlin-Wedding 4)
I find they all exaggerate it. Because, as I said what happens in Marxloh, happens in Duesseldorf and Oberhausen, happens everywhere. […] I think, I stay with my opinion that all people that are not from Marxloh speak bad about my district. My opinion. […] For instance, once I was interviewed by RTL [TV channel]. They told me to speak about Marxloh. They were shocked as I said only positive things, so that they even didn’t transmit it. […] My mother can go out at three o’clock in the night, well three o’clock in the morning, and nothing would happen to her, because everyone knows everyone. […] Well, I am honest, I have never heard a rape here. That’s really the worst thing for me. Rape is the worst. […] I can only talk really positively about my city. (Duisburg-Marxloh 7)
For instance, when I chat with her, I don’t tell that [I am from Marxloh], because the other girls are afraid of coming here. Girls are scared to come here. They are scared to enter Marxloh. They think all people from Marxloh are criminal. (Duisburg-Marxloh 1)
I grew up here and I would not recommend to [live] here. Well, Neukoelln is also beautiful but for me I would not be here with my future family. (Berlin-Neukoelln 4)
Neukoelln is shit, yes. I’d like to get out of here if I could. So, I was just, until my siblings have everything, their degrees. Then I would like to get out of Neukoelln and [move] to a quiet area. Also, you see yourself, only burglaries and this and that. I am concerned about my siblings. (Berlin-Neukoelln 7)
I said to my mother, we should move certainly move out from here, because we cannot bring up my siblings like this. […] I was bringing my little brother home from kindergarten, then I have seen a woman injecting heroin. […] In such an environment, it is scum here. […] That is why we must leave by all means. (Dortmund-Nordstadt 7)
I tell you the truth, I personally don’t like this place, because here you will confront with every illegal activity, from use of drugs and wine to sexual harassment of girls and especially transgender. Youngsters here of my age, do not go to school neither do they do any job, spend the whole day in these activities. Following girls in the street, spending the whole day while talking to their girlfriends on phone, use of drugs [remark: cigarette and marijuana] is also very much common among these guys. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 28)
Some of my friends are very violent, means they start fighting on very minor issue, few are very decent, and they mostly avoid making any trouble with anyone. Most of my friends are my age fellows, few are younger, and few are older than me. In our neighborhood people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds are living but majority of residents are either Punjabi or Pashtun. Kashmiri, Saraiki and Gilgiti people are also in a prominent number. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 27)
There is a large number of youths in these colonies. Those you can see over here are all the youth of our colony [remark: Bri Imam]. The youth are of different ethnicities permanently settling here at Bri Imam. Some are from Punjab and some are Pathans. Along with them there are also Gilgiti [remark: people of Gilgit] residing in this area of Bri Imam. Not everyone but many of them are gunday [remark; fighter/violent]. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 24)
They usually keep their deviant activities away from police. The families are not even aware about such deviant activities. We present ourselves differently in front of police. They think that we are not involved in deviant activities. For example, the police are not aware about the sexual relationship between a boy and a girl. Such deviant activities are not performed publicly rather they are performed covertly. Certain people are influential, and they have good terms with the police. They are able to suppress the deviant issues once they are caught by the police. They are backed by different people. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 23)
Here I come for my friends. Since I like the environment, I enjoy being here. It is the only place where one can enjoy, you know, girls come here so I gaze at them. Though none is owed and came across many girls. Since I know nowadays people’s priority is money and thank God I have not been after girls. I have spent a lot of time here at Bri Imam but in my entire life I have never done anything humiliating especially towards women. Once I did something wrong by bullying a girl, supplied her for money, but such activities are not fun and secondly such acts are disgracing [remark: disrespectful] for parents and entire family and on the other hand such things result in imprisonment. That is why I stay away from such things. So, it is better to sit and gaze rather than getting involved in anything against law. Although staring and teasing is fun but nowadays we can’t even tease girls because under cover personnel [remark: security agencies] are always on duty here and they arrest people found teasing girls or doing anything wrong. Last time they caught one of our friends. When a friend took away another friend’s cap and ran inside shrine of Bari. The other friend got angry and shouted at the one ran with the cap and was caught by security force. He was beaten. Another friend of mine got stuck inside but somehow, we managed to escape from there. So even now we come here with same fear in mind that the security personnel now know us, and we may be caught again. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 29)
Yes, they’re used a lot over here, as I said most of the boys are unemployed, and they have nothing better to do. Whenever we go to other parts of Islamabad or Rawalpindi, on the checkpoints the police ask us where we are coming from and when they come to know we are from this place, they thoroughly check us for drugs and other illegal substances. This is how we are known to the people and this is all because of the illegal activities going on in these slums. (Islamabad-France Colony 17)
The urban neighborhoods that were focused on in Islamabad and Rawalpindi have a poor reputation, which symbolically marks the residents in complex ways. They are considered as places of dangerous people. We noticed that there were several types of people living in those neighborhoods. Those who were natives and are unable to move to another place due to financial constraints, poverty, and unemployment. Ethnically diverse people settled in those urban neighborhoods or those who are in search of a place which is most economical and affordable. They prefer to live in these neighborhoods without considering inadequate housing or social facilities.
The neighborhoods we targeted in Pakistan were indeed risky neighborhoods with a reputation for violence, criminal behavior and an admission that deviant and normatively repugnant behavior, such as substance abuse, sexual harassment, and prostitution is ubiquitous in these neighborhoods. This engendered stigmatization by outsider citizens. Moreover, police surveillance of the areas is constant but not appreciated. Despite these factors, poverty, unemployment, low levels of education and urban migration constrain many who live there from leaving these neighborhoods, since these neglected neighborhoods are economically affordable. Some interviewees expressed the wish to be able to leave the neighborhood, while others admitted a sense of belonging—a space that afforded young people an opportunity to interact, relax, and manage their street presence.
Yes, I am from Johannesburg, but I was never raised there because they shot my grandfather who was the first guy that brought power along with all these guys […] He was even giving private information about family business, who it involved, named a few people within the government sector who were involved etc. (Durban-KwaMashu 8)
The communities they live in or the friends that they have most of the time, because if their friends are gangsters, I guess they won’t be as close to their friend as they would like to be. (Cape Town-Hanover Park 14)
No, we’re a “pure” bunch I guess. (Cape Town-Hanover Park 10)
For the past few years, there is a lot of people that come then they leave and that has affected my area because it gets quiet since them […] Because basically my area is only alive or very loudly depending on how much people there is, but for the past few years it’s been very quiet. (Cape Town-Hanover Park 14)
A friend is important so much let me make an example like how I brought myself to you and my parents are back home I talk to you about whatever is not making me happy and you as a friend will then comfort me and give me answers as to how I can solve the problem I am having and they help come up with a solution as to what we can do to solve the problem. (Durban-KwaMashu 6)
The cultural implications of this are of course themselves important, but so too are the remedial lessons, for it shows that interventions can both utilize but must also be aware of these deep-seated ontological nuances.
Similarities: In all contexts, the neighborhood has been perceived as providing the stage upon which personal identities could be performed, and yet also informed how those performances were both enacted and understood by the wider audience, the city. The social space is a place of belonging, where the juveniles feel at home or which was remembered for the lack of opportunities in life. Independent from the reputation and rating of the neighborhood, it is seen as an important social unit; juveniles cope with and become violent as one coping strategy. Anderson claims that there are two types of people: “decent” and “street”, with the possibility of code switching. However, the struggles of the juveniles who shape their identity in relation to their social environment points in the direction of a more complex process; how to “get by” in a risky neighborhood. This is important, because in all the contexts, those risky neighborhoods were perceived as dangerous and a personal threat. The ambivalence between home and threat, or from a more distanced view, between protection and danger, is a challenge for the juveniles, possibly creating conflicts at both a personal level and between individuals.
Differences: The exact personal position toward the neighborhood differs between the contexts. In the Pakistani case, the neighborhoods were rejected and poorly rated, which was not true for Germany and South Africa. At the same time, some claim that their neighborhood is a place to relax and feel comfortable. An explanation could be the strong family bonds in the traditional Islamic households, which are in an opposition toward a normless and risky social environment. However, in Pakistan , the neighborhoods were mentioned as an economic source conforming to legal norms. There, people earn money for the household income by trading or through construction services. In Germany, those aspects were mentioned only in one interview—in Berlin, and in South Africa, many of the participants garnered an income in these neighborhoods through criminal activity, such as drug dealing.
9.3.2 Reflections on the Findings About the Perception of Risky Neighborhoods
In Chap. 2, we discussed the spatial framework of risky neighborhoods more in detail. One part of the discussion was about the spatial threat approach, which binds together a bunch of different studies, which show that individuals perceive their neighborhoods as a threat. Even this is observable in our cross-cultural comparison. The juveniles interpret their neighborhoods, which means a social but also a normative spatial framework, as a source of danger, to which they have to react with violent behavior. Even this finding is stable over very different contexts, but how they react—what the shape of the street code looks like—will be discussed in the following section. The relational starting points are close to being similar across all the contexts and with the findings of Anderson, as well as with the Germantown neighborhood in the 1990s in the US context.
9.4 The Shape of the Code of the Street in Cross-Cultural Comparison
9.4.1 Comparison of Street Etiquette
Street etiquette includes street knowledge and a code of conduct for youth in the risky neighborhoods (Anderson 1990). Anderson (1999: 64) describes the knowledge as a defensive strategy of young men to stay safe on the street. In inner city neighborhoods, streetwise families encourage their children to acquire street knowledge while decent families try to keep their children away from the street. However, decent families’ children acquired knowledge of street etiquette through street socialization and social shuffling when they socialize with their peers in school and playgrounds. Adolescents of decent families also learn knowledge of code switching to present another self at home. Anderson (1999: 69) further argues that street etiquettes, as normative systems, are embedded in street codes and streetwise young men are well aware of the danger and how to prevent confrontation. It is a fundamental rule of the street code that street activities should only take place in the neighborhood and nowhere else and the street code outlines the role of perpetrator and victim in the street confrontation. In our study, young men also acknowledged that street knowledge determines vulnerability and protection on the street. The participants described that individuals with little confidence and street knowledge are vulnerable to predation. Young men with the street knowledge can read the situation and behave accordingly. So, street knowledge provides disadvantages for those who lack this knowledge. It incorporates the information about the street code, the police, and the neighborhood (Anderson 1999: 67). Young participants also revealed the prevalence of a tenet to settle the matter in the neighborhood. For example, young men reportedly mentioned a “one-on-one rule” to resolve the dispute among groups, according to which only two people engage in a fight without interference or assistance from others.
I keep my eyes open, for me the street is my life. […] because I am seventeen years on the street, sixteen years I was on the street […] for me the street means a lot to me, it taught me a lot. […] and I have self-confidence. I protect myself without a weapon, without anything. I just have self-confidence. […] even if two people approach me or so […] or three people. I run away. If two come, anyway I would not try to box with, I would try to get away from them, maybe, they have a gun in hand, maybe they have something in the hand. How shall I know? (Dortmund-Nordstadt 8)
If you are living long enough in Marxloh, you know where the corners are, where you are not allowed to go. […] Because, I know the place quite well. The corners, what is going on here, the hideaways, what exists here. (Duisburg-Marxloh 5)
If you see, one-on-one, nobody goes on, let them to fight. Except the situation is exaggerated, we part them. But otherwise we don’t interfere together. Unless you see four against one, then you go on with others, then it’s a mass brawl. (Duisburg-Marxloh 6)
No, definitely one-on-one. No, no, it is definitely very sneaky if more than one goes against one, one-on-one in any case. So definitely one against one, then I say, first pushing, or so, I would say, then it comes smacking then notice, then I see, if he reacts to it, if he notices: Okay, now I respect this person and I simply go out of his way, or if I, or if he tries to beat back then. (Dortmund-Nordstadt 10)
A situation, namely I was once in the city with two other colleagues, then two others came, I mean who I know as well and […] he became more and more cheeky and at some point I was fed up, he got some on his head. (Interviewer: But was that one-on-one or did a fellow join?) Yes, no, nobody joined. So, it was only me and him. (Dortmund-Nordstadt 9)
The above excerpts reflect the dynamics of informal social control in the neighborhood and a lack of willingness to intervene in confrontations. One aspect of this rule, as the young men above described it, is that one-on-one confrontations are a manifestation of manhood—a contest to see if you can successfully defend yourself.
Often the youngsters fight. Once we had one in our school, which was fought on behalf of our friend, Yousaf was also with us in that fight. One of our friends was going to school, on the way few guys surrounded him, they were blaming our friend for teasing one of boys’ sister. We know our friend very well he is a very gentle and nice guy and we were sure he would never do any act like this. Our friend was alone at that time, the guys took advantage of it and they beat up our friend very badly. Our friend got three stitches in the head. When we came to know about these happenings we gathered our friends and went after those guys after the school time, towards the colony. We knew they would be in the cricket ground where we often used to play after school time. We captured three of them and gave them beating of their life which they will never forget. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 28)
If I tell you about my nature, I mostly avoid involvement in conflicts but sometimes I have to react and fight, because in our neighborhood if I always keep tolerating the aggression of other fellows so they will start considering me a shameless person and an easy target, as they did with my friend as well. But luckily after having some very intense fights now most of the guys in my neighborhood avoid making any trouble with me. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 28)
Just a few days ago we had a fight while playing cricket. When we were playing the match, a boy who was not playing the match started interfering in the umpire decisions which resulted in a fight among both the playing teams. That boy was then beaten by both of the teams. Besides that, incident, I have never had any serious fight like the other people here who have made various groups like Malangii and who have nothing better to do than teasing girls, quarrelling and taking drugs the whole day. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 2)
From the Pakistani data, it is evident that street etiquettes exist. However, the nature and intent of the street etiquettes vary from the German data.
One of my philosophies is that life is like a river so let it flow so that is how I solve like my problems, like okay let’s see how it is going to happen like this then I try it in a different way cause now I know a way to do it, that’s how I solve my problems I just keep changing it and trying it in different ways then I did in the first time it did not work, I try to come up with different method to the situation I am in at that time. Do not do one thing for everything. (Durban-KwaMashu 9)
I don’t keep grudges if someone hurts me I don’t pay too much attention to them, it is cool you do you I do me, so carry on doing what you doing if it makes you happy what you doing then to me something that makes me happy, if it makes you happy then you carry on doing it I am just not going to chill with you then we cut ties, those people are not my enemies they just not friends. (Durban-KwaMashu 9)
Like you don’t understand addictions it’s like when I meet someone I believe everyone has an addiction and when I meet someone I want to find out like what is your addiction is it could be helping people it could be whatever Sbu’s is caffeine and I think he has that addiction because he understands that so I just let him be. (Durban-KwaMashu 8)
Perhaps my age group respects me. I am not sure about the old people. But my age group respects me because I also respect them. It is difficult for me to see or know whether older people respect me because I don’t spend a lot of time with them. I spend a lot of time with people who are my age group when we chill on the road and in our corners. You can really see that they are happy with my style. (Cape Town-Hanover Park 5)
Similarities: In all of the contexts and sites, specific rules were developed on how to behave on the street. The expectation is that if one follows these rules it guarantees the ability to keep out of trouble, while simultaneously making it possible to participate in the public life of the street. Following those informal rules provides safety, but causes problems for those who do not know the codes or reject them. However, these rules cause problems as well, because adherence to the rules rest with the juveniles themselves, hence the possibility of violence and dangerous situations.
Differences: Even if street etiquette works to keep the peace, differences are observable when it comes to violence. In Germany and Pakistan, clear rules on how to behave in violent situations are developed (e.g., one-on-one fighting only, or not using a weapon). In South Africa, instead, no such rules were operational in violent situations, with the need to overcome the opponent often the sole concern. Such a concern is symptomatic of the type of weaponry used—in which the difference between victory and defeat may also be the difference between life and death—and as noted throughout this chapter, because violence is so deeply embedded in individuals’ understandings that its use is not seen as strange or extra normal. So, the range of the informal rules is related to the local culture and circumstances. Even this finding is opposite to Anderson’s findings in the US.
9.4.2 Comparison of Symbols
In line with Anderson’s understanding of street culture, symbols, and in particular material objects that are understood symbolically, are considered significant to show power and reputation on the street. In risky neighborhoods, many of the youth carried small weapons including knives, tasers, and knuckle-dusters to protect themselves, so they said. Many of the respondents also noted that the carrying of a weapon was a potent means of articulating and performing their manhood and dominance on the street. Other material stuff included expensive brand clothes and shoes to attract attention on the street. Some of the participants acknowledged they used to give importance to expensive brands in the early teenage years, but these things later became irrelevant. Generally, most interviewees reported that expensive clothes and shoes are not related to respect on the street. Anderson (1999: 76) described that young men carry a beeper to sell drugs in the neighborhood, which become a status symbol of wealth, courage and drugs. In competitive environments, young men campaign for status by taking the possessions of others, which symbolizes winning a trophy. It includes material things like sneakers and pistols; even girlfriends can be trophies. Leather jackets, expensive sneakers, and other branded goods are considered important symbols of status and prop up the self-image of these youths. In the neighborhood, the peer group sets the standards for conduct and young men look for sex encounters to accumulate esteem among peers, each sex conquest regarded as a notch on one’s belt (Anderson 1999: 150).
Of course, there are some. There are many, that buy all that brands that are expensive, and you think oh cool, such as Ralph Lauren, Hilfiger, Versace, Prada, like this, Gucci. Like this, if someone has something original, he is immediately the boss, directly a highly respected person. (Scharnhorst 3)
No, I would never get any tattoos. First because of my religion. […] Second my father doesn’t want it, because my skin is, so to speak, it is not how God made it and you changed it. (Duisburg-Marxloh 1)
Well, in the past I would have gone out of the way. Today I just walk towards, because, as I said, one should be self-confident. […] you should not retreat immediately, because then the other person sees, ok he is afraid of me, he is already intimidated, is an easy victim. […] When someone wants to pinch stuff from somebody, then he makes it as easy as possible and searches for an easy victim, like it was the case with me. I was thirteen years old, a little child, and a twenty-five-year-old came to me with a knife. So you know, that he is twelve years older than me is already an important advantage and then pulling a knife, that makes it even worse. (Dortmund-Nordstadt 3)
We understand each other. But other people, who come from outside, when they see us, they think immediately, yes they are asocial, look how they dress up. Our style is like this. We dress up like ghetto. (Duisburg-Marxloh 5)
If a girl is to be attracted, we just wink at her while following them. If a girl sees you following her twice or third, she gets that the boy is interested in her. If the girl gazes back, it means that she is also interested in you. Besides this, it is also good to have stylish clothes. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 21)
The long nails are kept for the sake of girls. They usually like long nails, thus it actually symbolizes the love for a girl with whom a boy is in love […] It represents the friendship. As long as it remains at your finger, you are in a strong bond of friendship with that individual. They have been given to me by my friends. Some people wear threads around their wrists and some use bracelets, but I usually like these rings. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 22)
A boy having a long hair, and a long nail at pinky finger was Jay Kishan (Indian Film actor). He was wearing pant shirt. When I started to talk with him, he was not hesitant, and he started to talk freely. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 23)
The girls are called Taxi and the boys who do such things are called Shooda […] If a boy establishes a relationship with a girl then the handkerchief is given as a sign of love to her. The handkerchief is when given by the girl to a boy then the boy would it wear around his wrist. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 24)
Some of the boys use the rings and bracelets which are given to them by their girlfriends. One of my friends has three girlfriends. One of them has given a bracelet and a thread to him so he wears them around his wrist. These things are also used to show that the boy has a girlfriend. I have not used such rings and bracelets. […] Girls are more interested in watching television. They are quickly imitating the fashion as you might have observed by yourself. We should not forget our own fashion but currently nobody cares about that. I have seen a girl in this place who was wearing bilkul patla [means: transparent] clothes and her whole body was clearly visible. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 25)
I often wear shalwar qamees along with waist coat as it is our traditional dress. However, I also do wear jeans and shirts as well. Nowadays most of the guys wear jeans while they are on the street, some of the guys also wear earrings and bracelets. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 27)
I mostly wear shalwar qamees [Pakistani dress]. Jeans and shirts along with waist coat are popular among boys these days in the neighborhood. I do wear ta’wiz [phylactery] but I do not wear jewelry such as bracelets or earrings. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 1)
I mostly wear shalwar qamees and when I am on duty, I follow our work place dress code. Using earrings and bracelets for a boy is not allowed by our religion, so I never wear such things. I do wear Sindhi topi [cap] sometimes. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 2)
I also wear earrings and a ‘ta’wiz’ around my neck. (Rawalpindi-Dhok Matkial 26)
I often wear jeans and shirts; however, I also do wear shalwar qamees as well. I used to wear earrings few months ago but then my father came to know about that then upon his orders now I don’t wear it anymore. I have this [ta’wiz] given to me by my mother I keep it with myself every time. (Rawalpindi-Dhok Matkial 5)
I wear shalwar qamees, sometimes jeans and shirts as well. Most of my friends wear jeans these days; they are impressed from English and Indian movies. I don’t like to wear earrings and bracelet I consider it as girlish things, a man has some traits which suits him and should adopt them rather than adopting girl’s styles and fashion. (Islamabad-France Colony 16)
They have their own style. As you might have seen that boys have bracelet which are sometime given by the girls. They use them with pride that it has been given by a girl. There are also boys who behave like crazy people. They cut their arms with knife and another sharps thing. If one inquiry about it they will say, it is a sign of love and it also represents their courage. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 13)
We can see from the Pakistani data, that the symbols of the street code have a broader meaning. This is true for gender relation in particular. We can only understand the meanings of such symbols by putting them into the cultural context, which makes clear that the street codes are culturally framed and that they are not a general explanation.
I feel the same Mandela that went in there is not the same Mandela that came out and if you look at how we are as black people now our respect was buried away post 1994 you see because of what they did and they just made a decision to come and kill us slowly the following, but how I see respect is there is respect that people as respect and there is for an example look at Mandela everybody respects Mandela for what. (Durban-KwaMashu 8)
Yes, I am from Johannesburg, but I was never raised there because they shot my grandfather who was the first guy that brought power along with all these guys. (Durban-KwaMashu 8)
My financial security majority of it relies in I call her my mom but she is my aunt relies in her and my sister and also my brother relies on those guys that’s my financial security, my emotional also relies in my mother but not my brother and sister it basically relies in my friends’ the ones I call family, that’s where my emotional security relies in, if my friends do something really bad to me then I lose respect for them. (Durban-KwaMashu 9)
As a man, I wish to see myself driving. Although I know it’s too much for me to mention driving even before education but yes, I would like to drive a big car. So that when I come to the township, everybody looks at me. The shoe that I would be wearing, people would have to see that this guy is successful. (Cape Town-Hanover Park 2)
Firstly, it means that I am fashionable. I love that. I really do. When I bought it as well with the money that my mother gave me for Christmas, everyone thought that I looked good and they told me. I also saw that this is a hit. (Cape Town-Hanover Park 3)
There is one that I can talk about. You see this one is educated, she is around 39 years or more. But I can say that she is still young. But she is successful. She is highly educated. She has many things in life. Married. She has everything, but she still wants more but personally I can say she is successful. (Cape Town-Hanover Park 12)
Similarities: We find that self-confidence and carrying improvised weapons are symbolic elements of street culture. Results show that context-related symbols, like weapons, are recognized by youth in the neighborhoods. However, in contrast to Anderson’s findings, the symbols are not linked to respect or violence. Though, in all contexts, symbols are a show of force, but more so a flag of the status, they are not linked to respect and violence directly, and do not cause it. But symbols do have an ambiguous meaning. On the one hand, they should trumpet success, as do expensive branded goods or cars. On the other hand, symbols are a part of the local street culture in so far that they show the relative position of the person within the risky neighborhood with its informal rules. Conversely, belonging to street culture signifies failure in the broader society, because of discrimination, and/or because street culture overtly rejects mainstream norms.
Differences: The data clearly manifested that symbols need to be interpreted in relation to context. So, in Germany, symbols address peers and friends and are a sign of status within the groups. This is true for the carrying of weapons, too. Usually, juveniles carry such items, but never used them nor know how to use them. The Pakistani data showed that religious symbolic items are worn, which was not found in the other two contexts. Furthermore, symbols were an offensive tool to gain the attention of women of the same age group, which would otherwise not be possible because of the strict social rules. However, in South Africa, violence by itself becomes a symbol of power, which gains a deeper meaning, keeping the history of apartheid in mind. Based on this, we have to reject the assumption of a simple connection between symbols, respect, and violence, even we see some relation. The field is indeed much more complex.
9.4.3 Comparison of Toughness and Masculinity
Toughness on the street is viewed in two ways by respondents. One outlook on toughness is through the rubric of masculinity, in which a privileged man who is respected by others on the street creates an image of ruthlessness. Manhood is associated with respect on the street and thus is internalized through and symbolically indicated by heightened levels of confidence and high self-esteem. In street culture, attributes such as manhood, a reputation for aggression, and status garnered through wealth and symbols might be achieved through violent conduct in public. On inner city neighborhood streets, young men manifest and utilize overtures toward masculinity in order to both gain access to and heighten their reputation. Manhood is associated with ruthlessness and the inclination to use violence (Anderson 1999: 91). In addition, a man is able to hold his nerve and manhood can also be expressed by the possession of material goods and by entering into relationships with particular women or girls. In inner city neighborhoods, young males perceive a real man to be someone who has street knowledge and who follows the code of the street. A reputation of toughness and hardness safeguards against future victimization. In their campaign for respect, young people are ready to behave violently. From another perspective, toughness is the ability “stand your ground”; where people have a little trust in state institutes, particularly the police, they need to be able to retaliate on their own in response to threats (Anderson 1999: 189). This code legitimates the use of force and provides a rationale for violent behavior. This may be enacted through standing up to institutional or structural forms of authority and violence, such as the explicit antagonism toward the police or other community authority figures, the defiance of the state or the destruction of public property, or the commitment of criminal acts, such as public order violations or the defacement of public buildings.
The weaker has virtually respect for the stronger. That’s how it is on the street. (Duisburg-Marxloh 2)
Well, you should, I may say, you should not somehow show your smile too much on the street, because very often it is ascribed with weakness if you show very much smile. You should always look tough and stay tough, because then you will be seen like this, also taken seriously and also respected. Once you show your smile, then they see it as weakness. Then you have to show toughness again, for example by beating this person. For instance, I personally don’t enjoy it, but everyone is fighting for his reputation, I would say it like this. (Dortmund-Nordstadt 10)
Confrontation and so. We also want to have our pride. That’s about pride, about, we must do something. You cannot just turn around and say ‘not so bad’. (Duisburg-Marxloh 1)
Who is a strong man? (..) Wait. No idea. Definitely not one who is hopped up on steroids or something. This doesn’t count. I don’t know. Maybe when someone shatters and gets up again? No idea. And says, fights on, still defends himself or runs off. No idea. For me this is strong. (Berlin-Neukoelln 7)
Strength has nothing, has not only to do with power, but also strength is also […] Strength is, for instance, if you can give respect to one. In my opinion that’s also strength. (Duisburg-Marxloh 3)
Everyone is strong in special way or though, no tough rather not, but strong, (Interviewer: In which special way are you strong?) I’m rather a quiet person. I can tolerate much, very much. But it goes in one ear and out the other. (Berlin-Neukoelln 4)
A strong man? I say, a man who does not knock out another with through a punch but with words. He, for me, he is tough. He, he can control himself. (Berlin-Neukoelln 9)
I don’t beat girls, well, but I had a quarrel with a girl, she called me a bastard then. I hate the word ‘bastard’, although I know that my mother is not a whore, but so. First I put my fist into my trousers and so I was calm. Then she repeated, then I said “You better go away”. Then I wanted to go and she called me a bastard again and I slapped her in the face. (Duisburg-Marxloh 2)
In my view, a strong man is, if he would defend his girlfriend from other people. (Berlin-Wedding 4)
So, respect, no. […] For me it is like this, I only mess up with someone who is at my level. If I realize that he is afraid of me and says, please stop it, then I can’t beat him, because I see it that way, that is fear, cowardly. I will stop it. (Duisburg-Marxloh 6)
A strong man is for me a man who, in his decisions gives way to others or compromises […] But in principle one should stand one’s ground. (Berlin-Wedding 7)
Another ritual of toughness is self-reliance, which means that you can resolve your matters on your own. Standing their ground was a shared narrative among the youth. If someone challenges you, you need to be able to protect yourself without reliance on others. This is also street etiquette in the neighborhood, which is explained later in this chapter. Overall, there are diverse accounts of toughness and strength, although the young participants related toughness to manhood.
Being tough means, you are never afraid of anyone. You are ready to face any situation. And I tell you one thing this poverty makes people very tough. Because if you are poor, you have to fight for your survival from dawn till dusk. (Rawalpindi-Dhok Matkial 5)
Everybody tries to look appealing in the street and so I do. I believe a person roughness and toughness has nothing to do with how he presents himself to the world. The thing which matters is that how tough one is from the heart, if a person has very good and hard and rough physique but runs away when he is confronted with a problematic situation, this means he is buzdil [coward]. A hahadur [brave] person will face a situation even when the odds are not in his favor. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 27)
If I tell you about my nature, I mostly avoid involvement in conflicts but sometimes I have to react and fight, because in our neighborhood if I always keep tolerating the aggression of other fellows so they will start considering me a shameless person and an easy target, as they did with my friend as well. But luckily after having some very intense fights now, most of the guys in my neighborhood avoid making any trouble with me. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 27)
If I’m alone and having a fight with some boys who outnumbers me, I will never backup rather I will face them and show them that how tough I am. And I have done this too. As few months ago, I was involved in a fight with 3 boys, I do fight with them alone and did not ran away like cowards. I never do this thing [remark: running] because I am not a spineless person or coward. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 27)
Violence against women and children cannot be considered as bravery or toughness. It could only be considered as a shameless act. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 27)
Everyone is afraid of us and that is how we survive through intimidating others because without bullying one cannot survive in existing era, but we didn’t quit our studies. If we don’t study, we cannot survive because the coming era would be technically very advance. Yes, the coming era’s advancement is beyond our imagination. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 29)
Everyone here wants to prove that he is tough and strong. If outsiders come to this area, these boys start conflicts with him. They cannot tolerate, even a minor disagreement between them. This situation causes conflicts between them; they consider their muhallas [remark: place] as their property. (Islamabad-France Colony 16)
To sum up, for most of the Pakistani respondents, toughness reflects manhood, the physical strength of a person, and the temperament to face hardship. It is a person with the strength to face adversity, fight with others, and to dominate the fight. It is also a reflection of a person willing to demonstrate high levels of violence to show that he has the capacity and strength to mobilize peers and engender fear among weaker people. However, some of the respondents did not agree with the above perspective of toughness. These adolescents believe in struggle, hard work, and school education. They do not want to become aggressive or tough to get recognition.
It’s based on how they act. Their attitude towards it. If they go around, bragging about it, I’m going to think there is something you can’t do, so now you go around bragging, because you have a weakness, and someone can exploit that. If you throw stuff like that in my face, it gets irritating. (Cape Town-Hanover Park 14)
I can define tough as something that is hard to do basically something that is tough is normally beyond you it is something that is hard for you can’t do it and most of the time you can beat it and overcome all the all that comes to you. (Durban-KwaMashu 2)
Yeah this is a tough situation you like okay I am about to get arrested but there’s a way out, you have to sit down think about what you going to say and then you lie your way out of it, you got out of a tough situation and that’s how you get out of a tough situation. (Durban-KwaMashu 10)
It is not having the things that you need an order to live a nice life. That is a tough life. You see now, even now, I also don’t have a job and I always have to ask my mother and if she does not have, I have to ask from the pension of my grandmother. I also have to try and respect them so that they can give me what I need. So that I can also be able to buy clothes. In real fact things are really difficult. Because if you look at my life, since the school failed me, it is difficult. Sine I don’t have matric, there is no way for me to get a decent job which can support me. It is tough. I don’t know if it is because I am born from Inanda. Yes. The life here is tough. But life is possible because anyway we were born here, what we can do. All we need to do is to push and keep trying. (Durban-KwaMashu 2)
Similarities: Toughness is similar in the three countries under scrutiny. In all contexts, toughness was linked to masculinity and the image of a real man. This included the ability to fight, in particular, and the absence of weakness to stay safe. However, street peers rather than family were the role models for the cultivation of this image. The idea of a violent masculinity is close to the concept of respect but is limited to subcultural contexts or behavior within friendship groups or toward juveniles (males and females) of the same age.
Differences: Toughness was linked to identification with the neighborhood in Germany, but not in South Africa or Pakistan. Thus, the poor reputation of a neighborhood can be reinterpreted as a source of power, but only if the neighborhood is a small environment with which juveniles have close contact, such as sports club or public schools, e.g., in sports club or in public schools. If not, the possibilities of such a reinterpretation are absent.
9.4.4 Comparison of Friends
For street-oriented people, their individual loyalties and commitments to family members and friends are crucial to their understandings of themselves, others, and the norms which shape their lives (Anderson 1999: 71). In many cases, young men become involved in escalated situations because of friendship. In schools and on the streets, young men are likely to establish a small group of friends from their neighborhoods. They have particular expectations and stand up for each other, so as to create cohorts and groupings with which they have solidarity and thus safety.
Pfff […] loyalty is important, I think, that you can also trust him [friend], not that he, that I confide something to him and he betrays me the next moment, because, that one can rely on him. Yes, if I need help sometimes or he needs help, of course you also have to be there. Of course, also that you get along well, yes, that’s logical, that you can have fun and simply there must be true chemistry between you. I think such things are important. (Duisburg-Marxloh 9)
Well, one with whom you can share everything, I have only one best friend, others are chilling-peers with whom I chill. I tell everything to my best friend. He knows everything about me and with him I hang around most of time, and no matter, he always stands behind me. We also don’t quarrel very often, and yes no idea, the one you trust most, that is the best friend. (Duisburg-Marxloh 2)
And friend. For me it is a difference what I feel. Because the other is not real to you. You know, the one is real, but the other is not real, you know? The one sticks together with you and the other doesn’t stick together. (Dortmund-Nordstadt 8)
Clearly, these storylines depict the level of mistrust in the neighborhoods and that adolescents are wary of making friends. Some of the participants mentioned that some of their friends took their girlfriends and betrayed them. Therefore, the adolescents are very careful about choosing friends. They reaffirm their friendship and their bond in various situations. Some of them mentioned that their brothers, cousins, and schoolmates are their close friends.
In addition to friends, the adolescents belong to small groups and spend time together within neighborhoods. Most of these group are gender and ethnically mixed. After school and work, they meet in the park or youth center where they socialize with these peers and seek their identity. They gain street knowledge and the social environment generates a street lifestyle. These groups are also crucial for socialization and security in the neighborhoods.
A person who can help you in your painful moments is your friend. If they are unable to help you then, they should not be our friends. Those with whom I do have a friendship, they are all good. They will surely come to help me in the hour of need. We have a strong bond of friendship when it comes to any problem. We do not care about what people say about my friends. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 25)
I think there is no better thing in the world than having the company of good friends. The friends who are there for you in any kind of situation, who never betray you, who help you in every situation of joy and sadness are the best kind of friends. We help each other in every situation and are always there for each other. (Rawalpindi-Dhok Matkial 5)
I have very good friends. If I fight with someone and I ask my friends for help. They will take revenge for me, same as I do for them as well. I do help them whenever they require me. Last week a Punjabi group beat our Pathan friend in school, when we came to know about that we took revenge of him. (Rawalpindi-Dhok Matkial 6)
A person has to gain our trust if he wants to be our friend. And for that he has to show that he is sincere with us and will take part with us in our activities and will never run away whenever we confront a problematic situation. A person can leave our group of friends anytime; you cannot force anyone to remain your friend. Everyone has the freedom to choose with whom he wants to be friend with. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 7)
Only that guy can remain our friend who shows sincerity and commitment to us. Not some person who runs away when we need him. So, when a person becomes our friend, we make sure that he is honest and loyal to us, and if we get to know that someone is backstabbing us, we do not keep friendship with him anymore. (Rawalpindi-Dhok Matkial 4)
I have a trust in all my friends and they also trust me. I have never betrayed them, and I am always there for them in their highs and lows. It is important for all groups. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 21)
It is the trust which keeps us united. All the friends trust each other regardless of the situation. When a friend makes a call, it is obligatory for me to get there without any questions. We’re always happy to respond. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 22)
If a friend of us is arrested by the police, we try to contact any influential figure to help us in this regard, if we do not get any help then we collect money among us and give it to the police in order to get him out of the jail. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 7)
A friend is the one who helps you in your need. Some friends are selfish, they will be very close to you when they need something from you, but when you need their help, they make excuses. I don’t like such friends, but even if they need me, I leave my own work and try to solve their problems. I may lay down my life for true friends, but I really hate cheaters. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 8)
Those who are living here, we have friendship with them. They are our peers. We have been living with them for a long period of time. I was born here. I have friendship with both Pathans and Punjabis. There is no such division that if you are a Punjabi, then you must have friendship with Punjabi only. We also have different friends at school and they are from different areas. Some of them are also my friends at both school and outside of school. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 11)
These groups consist of both Punjabi and Pathan. Malangi group is largest and it has only Punjabi boys. Their group composition depends upon their interests, if they found a guy helpful to them and trustworthy, they would allow him to join their group. And if they come to know about a guy is being untrustworthy, they expel him from their group. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 26)
A friend among us is given more respect who is always there to help other friends and who never left his friends’ side in any situation. We have a friend who is very aggressive, we call him jaddu his physique is also very strong he uses to go to gym that’s why most of the guys in neighborhood are afraid of him and never ever think of making trouble with him. Anyone can become our friend if he stays with us, gives us respect and helps us in every situation and who proves himself trustworthy. And we did not keep friendship with a guy who did not come to our aid when we needed him. Once I needed my friends, I called a few of them but no one came to my aid, after that I gave up contact with them, but after few weeks they came to me and apologized for their act I also forgive them. (Rawalpindi-Dhok Matkial 26)
I have a large group of friends and they are idle like me. Some of my friends also study in schools and colleges and few of them do jobs as well, however the majority of my friends are jobless and do nothing. We spend most of the time together outside our homes. (Rawalpindi-Dhok Matkial 5)
I am a frequent visitor of Bri Darbar [Shrine]. Here I meet my friends to have fun. I come here for enjoyment. We meet friends because it is enjoyable to pass comments on nearby passing girls. Every day several numbers of girls come to Bri Imam and it provides an opportunity for us enjoy the scene [watching girls and passing comments]. There are also visitors who brought food with them [Rice] in order to distribute that among the people. We also eat it. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 21)
They remain unaware about the conflicts. They are not being told about the issue as it stays away from home. Only the friends and group members have the information. If they receive any information by any means they we make them believe that its usual stuff not a problem. I have been advised by my family to stay away from conflicts but again there comes the friendship which is also important thing. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 21)
We do not involve our families in our personal matters. I have never involved my family for such issues. Issues and problems are the part of life and it is the bravery of a person to tackle the issue with ease. If you are brave, then there is nobody that could make bow.
If the friends are informed about the personal matters, they can understand the issue. They are also ready to help you. I have friends and they are also ready to sacrifice at all times, because I have also sacrificed for them several times. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 24)
A friend is someone who doesn’t respect me it would be someone who would walk in here I am sitting with my friends and gives everyone a R5 and he doesn’t give me every single day of my life not just on that one single day. (Durban-KwaMashu 10)
A friend is somebody you are close with, somebody you spend a lot of time with. When you wake up you think of this person. You think of them when you are just sitting or when you are eating. Sometimes you wonder whether they have food to eat. A friend is somebody who seems like you share blood with. (Durban-KwaMashu 2)
It is important because you find a person that you can open up to, this is a person that you can trust with your life, and he is very close to you. You should not be killed by guilty conscience when you have a friend. (Durban-KwaMashu 5)
A friend for me is someone you speak too and you can tell everything whether it is something that is bothering you or is not going well and you seeking for advice, or it could be someone you get happy with but friends also differs because there are best friends and also just a friend a best friend is the one who you close with so much and that best friend ends up being your go to person your number your brother or sister, and you talk to that person about everything you trust them with your all and then there is a friend that you meet in class, you work with, your travel with etc. someone you don’t with all your heart not like a best friend. (Durban-KwaMashu 6)
A friend is someone you share with everything like your views, what you like, where you are visiting etc. a friend is someone you can trust so much depending on how your relationship is with the person you call a friend. You must tell that person you call your friend let’s say you are in trouble that friend can help there is a true friend who is your ride or die, all your secrets you can share with your friend knowing he or she will have your back no matter what. (Durban-KwaMashu 7)
Similarities: The idea of friendship was similar between all contexts. Friendship is shaped by mutual trust and loyalty. Friends are a source of identity and the values within a group of friends are powerful influences on males’ behavior. Moreover, friends play the role of protector in a threatening environment and seen from this perspective, friends are a type of weapon. Conversely, friends are also a source of disappointment and can behave fraudulently, especially if they do not fulfill their duties, like providing support in a violent situation, or by taking one’s girlfriend.
Differences: The only important difference in terms of conceptions was in relation to the role and structures imposed by the existence of gangs. In Germany, no gang activity was mentioned. However, “loose” gangs were reported by juveniles in Pakistan and clearly organized gangs were mentioned in South Africa. Those gangs are usually very violent and friendship in those groups includes sharing economic activities, like drug dealing, and showing through violence that one belongs to the group as intended protection against future violence.
9.4.5 Comparison of Respect
Respect is one of the principal codes in both Anderson’s study and in the data gathered in the three countries. It is furthermore intimately tied with violence, both as a driver of violence in the name of respect or as a means of garnering respect, and inversely, in being drawn from the symbolic use of violence itself. In the inner city neighborhoods, respect on the street may be considered a form of social capital and a safeguard against future victimization (Anderson 1999: 87). However, it is challenged by counterparts through insulting and taking possessions. The common view among young males is that the maintenance of respect is important to them. They felt more disrespect when someone showed disrespect to their family, particularly to their mother or by talking about them behind their back. However, some of the respondents, particularly from Pakistan, said that if they believed that the person respected their family (especially mother, sister, or any other close relative) they showed respect to them as well. Moreover, the respondents justified violence as revenge for disrespect. They considered it as an essential act to safeguard respect and family honor.
[…] by now nothing happens to me, because the people know me. Because they know I easily freak out if something happens. So, I have my name [reputation], I would say, I created my name [respect]. So at first, everyone said, come, let’s chase him. Frequently several persons came to me or my siblings. […] Once also, my little brother was fasting, he came to me and was crying. Then I wanted to go to the little children, because they wanted to snatch his phone, and I said, listen boys, my little brother is fasting. If I hear again, that you do something, I go to your parents and show you in front of your parents who I really am. So to speak, don’t touch him anymore. […] And since then also anything [happened] again. And yes, somehow like with those 15 Bulgarians, with whom I fought, since then also nobody comes to me and to wants to fight with me or so. (Dortmund-Nordstadt 7)
Teach him respect. Well, I mean not hitting him directly or so. But […] when one is disrespecting parents, I am more aggressive. Therefore, give him a slap for respect. Not boxing him. But such a slap. (Berlin-Wedding 4)
Disrespect itself, for instance, also leads to violence. For example, today a little child has offended me several times indirectly. Why are you so tall? I told him several times to stop. Also told him differently, more strictly. Then he even got one. But such a slap for respect, so that he shall respect the older one. So, just disrespect can cause violence. (Berlin-Neukoelln 6)
I know many other teenagers, we were taught all by our parents, we are all polite. All are polite, how we talk, help elderly people, nothing. But sometimes, when we see that others are disrespectful, we also get a bit nervous. We also say, what are you doing. Help Mr. So-and-so, he doesn’t have much money, what are you doing. That’s how we are. Yes, the others maybe, other teenagers don’t do that. They have not been taught respect, respect by their parents. (Duisburg-Marxloh 1)
Respect should be for parents and oneself, for example, it is mutual, if you want respect, you will have to respect. (Dortmund-Nordstadt 10)
Mutual respect, based on the acknowledgement of potential violence that could be perpetuated against one another, becomes a crucial means of building alliances and even friendships. Overall, the accounts of the young participants showed similar broader perspectives about respect, albeit with various individual idiosyncrasies and perspectives. “Diss me, and I will show you who I am” is the most accentuated theme by youths in these neighborhoods. The narrations indicate that the maintenance of respect protects them in their neighborhoods and constructs a ruthless reputation. Other viewpoints of young interviewees about respect is more normative, which rests on a moral relationship with others and regarding others respectfully, particularly their mothers and the elderly.
[…] for us dignity, honor and respect are the main things. And if someone harms my dignity and self-respect I cannot tolerate it. (Rawalpindi-Dhok Matkial 26)
Respect is respect. If someone does not respect me, how would I be able to respect him/her. If someone doesn’t respect you there is no point respecting him back. If someone does not answer to your Salam, it is considered as disrespect. For example, if I am on date with a girl and she disclosed the secrecy to someone else this would be a shameful act for me because my friends will say “He has been disgraced by his girlfriend”. This is a shame for me. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 27)
PST (one of the groups) has its member and they respect us, but those who are children (chotay) are not aware of it. They are harshly treated so that they can obey the senior members of the group. The group leader is responsible to pass the norms of the groups to the members about who should be respected and who should not. If they do not learn they are made to leave the groups. It again becomes difficult for those members to live freely in this area. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 21)
He who follows the members of the group is suitable. If he accepts the senior as his senior and follows the norms it means that individual is suitable to become the member of the group. Inside the group respect and obedience is essential. If the members are obeying each other it means they are respecting each other. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 22)
For me respect is that people do not call me with bad names. If you are a thief or a robber or do drugs people have no respect for you. There should be acceptability of an individual among the peers, neighbors and friends. If an individual is respected, then it is the ultimate respect of the family. If you are deviant, you have no respect. (Islamabad-France Colony 16)
Respect is a very important thing but not everyone gets it neither everyone gives it. Most of the time you have to earn it either by your efforts or by force. Guys who are very much violent are given more respect in the street by fellows and peers. If a guy does not want to play with us or make a bet on the game or he avoids violence so then we have nothing to do with him. He has his own life and own choices, we don’t force him. But I think noble people have no such place in this neighborhood because here respect is given to those who are more violent and aggressive. (Rawalpindi-Dhok Matkial 26)
The guy who is the toughest among us, who is always there for other friends in times of need, who never runs away from fights and who fights like a man, is given much respect and honor. We have a friend we call him fouji (solider) is a very nice guy but he is short tempered as well, he is habitual of starting fight with other guys over very minor things like if someone is stalking his girlfriend, he will start beating that guy. But with all that we give him a lot of respect because he fights for us. He has helped me many times and I also try to help him back whenever he needs my help. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 27)
We all friends are equal, there is no such inferiority or superiority. However, other boys on the street have formed groups in which they have chosen their leader. They remain in the group all the time and mostly fight as a team with other guys. Their leader is mostly the toughest guy among them who is very good at fighting. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 28)
I want to earn money so that I can have a healthy life. If you are poor, this means that nobody will respect you. I am thankful to God that I am working and earning, and it is difficult for them who don’t. Even the family members are not ready to accept them. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 21)
The respondents believe that they have to accumulate money in order to gain respect. Those youngsters who have money and resources, receive respect from everyone—members of the group, family, and everyone on the street. However, if a person does not have money, he is perceived as a person that requires the minimum of respect.
I do respect my parents, not only my parents but every old man and woman. If I tell you about my toughness, you can get the idea from the fact that I started working and earning when I was only 8 or 9 years old. I have faced so many difficulties in very harsh situations, I have spent days and nights without food, all those situations have made me strong. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 1)
Once we were sitting here near Bri Imam [shrine] there were two girls sitting with their mother. Few boys were teasing those girls. I went to them and told these boys not to do that. They taunted me and said why are you getting angry, are these girls your sisters? I said I have no relation with these girls, but I also have sisters like them at my home. Then those boys called their other friends and they warned me to mind my own business. This thing made me lose my temper and I started fighting with them. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 27)
Few days ago, a boy in our neighborhood was stalking my sister who uses to go to nearby madrassa. My sister told me that this guy is stalking her for last three to four days. Next day, I went to that guy and I told him to avoid doing this thing again he said ok. But next day he did the same and my sister told me that he did it again, it made me so angry and I went after that guy. I found him near the cricket ground and beat him so much. Now he will never do this again then I taught him a lesson. Another thing which cannot be tolerated is if someone among my friends backstabs me, means discloses my personal information and things to my family members, things that I don’t want them to become aware of. If someone does that then he has to face its consequences. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 27)
Family respect and honor are an integral part of socialization in Pakistan. Pakistani socialization requires a person to spend their whole life earning money for the family and to protect the family and maintain its the respect. It is the supreme responsibility of every citizen. Respect is an essential code of the street and its preservation is important for adults in the risky urban neighborhoods of Pakistan. It is produced, reproduced, and consumed both on and off the streets in Pakistan. Similar to the German data, young people’s interviews reflected that respect must be shown to elderly people, women, and children.
I can define success as a time when you have achieved all your goals. All your dreams have come true. You have everything that you have wished for in life. Although I know that as people we always wish for more. But there are times when you can see that some people have achieved what they were wishing for. Some people wanted to become doctors and they have achieved that. They have also wished that they could get married and now they are married. It is having everything that you have wished for. I see that as success. (Durban-KwaMashu 5)
Actually, my older cousin. I grew up with him and he didn’t study further, but he went back to finish his matric and now he is the manager or assistant manager at Kirstenbosch Gardens. He used every opportunity that he could and that is how I want to be. (Cape Town-Hanover Park 10)
Respect is that to respect is to respect someone who is older than you respect is doing something that you know that okay it is to do something which you don’t want another person to do it its always looking for whether being the better person, respect its knowing your lane and being conscious of everybody surrounding you in such a way that you guys don’t you won’t clash because if you people respect each other. (Durban-KwaMashu 8)
It happens everywhere if, people don’t […] if someone is going to get robbed, and they don’t like to want to give their things over, then gangsters are obviously going to like to try to take it off them, and if they try to stop them, most of the time they will stab the person, because that’s how it works. (Cape Town-Hanover Park 14. Emphasis added)
Like if you are just straight up to me like you take me, I can’t explain it, you just got to be straight up with me and don’t tell lies. If you respect me whatever you do you will not lie to me. Once you have done it you will not back down for it, if you do something but if you don’t respect yourself you are going to lie. (Durban-KwaMashu 8)
That this is the default and expected outcome is indicative both of the extensive use of violence in order to articulate and defend self-mandated conceptions of respect. It is furthermore positioned as a verb, indicative of respect being articulated through actions, in which violence is not only the vehicle through which respect is achieved but through which it is enforced, to emphasize the word in its repetition. This duality shall be more extensively explored in relation to the code of success, and respect and success are intimately interlinked.
Similarities: A common theme relating to the code of respect in the interviews across the sites is that respect is both a vehicle for the cementing of as well as one by which to initially garner a reputation. If built on the use of violence, and symbolically reinforced through myth and storytelling, then such a reputation can both provide cultural capital and protect from further violence. Having “a name” is both violent and peaceful, which shows the ambivalent character of respect in the identity of male juveniles. It is nothing they can be sure about and need to campaign for it all the time, but the way to accumulate the reputation is at minimum twofold. On the one hand, young males need to act violently and show the ability to fight, to become respected. On the other hand, and this is in opposition to Anderson’s description of the dynamics within the African American neighborhood in Philadelphia in the 1990s, those violent characters need to act politely and with loyalty toward their friends and family, but also to elders and unknown citizens. So male juveniles in risky neighborhoods are in a dilemma of contradictory expectations and can only lose, which causes anger and frustration. However, a pattern that emerged is that having a reputation is assumed to protect people from violence.
Differences: Clear differences are observable in the perception of money and the manner in which respect is connected to the accruement of material capital. Having money is perceived as a goal in life, but it does not mean, that having money necessarily or directly correlates with respect amongst peers. It stands on its own and the perception depends on the broader context. However, in the Pakistani interviews, such a causality is claimed. Another dissimilarity between the contexts is that only in South Africa, violence is a way to accumulate respect in the manner Anderson describes in the example of the Germantown neighborhood in Philadelphia. Neither in Germany, nor in Pakistan such a direct path described is by the adolescents.
9.4.6 Comparison of Enemy
Close social bonds, such as seen in the dynamics between friends and close groups, are considered crucial for the safety of individuals who reside in risky neighborhoods. However, in case of disrespect, friends can turn into enemies, as narrated by Anderson (1999: 90) through the story of Malik and Tryee who were friends and used to hang around together, until Tryee felt disrespect and confronted Malik. Anderson (1999: 190) states that in inner city neighborhoods there is an environment of competition and youth are socialized competitively with peers. In the neighborhood, young people vie for respect, girlfriends, and reputation in the staging area and young people are jealous of each other. Furthermore, the residents of inner city neighborhoods have little trust in state institutions, particularly the justice system and police. They think that institutions have double standards: one for black and another for white people (Anderson 1999: 133). Therefore, there are a number of ambiguities through which the concept of the enemy both operates and is used to define individuals as enemies.
An enemy? For me an enemy is, for example someone who […] insults my mother […] who for example did something to my best friend, […] steals his girlfriend, it’s like this for me, because with such I don’t want anything to do with it. (Duisburg-Marxloh 6)
An enemy? […] It used to be like this for me, an enemy is, like I said, if he insults my family several times. In my head he is directly my enemy. Just because! I keep in my mind who insults my family is immediately my enemy. Well I don’t hit him down! But we will not become friends. (Berlin-Wedding 4)
A person who fucks up. Although I shut up and still he carries on with it. And at some point you provoke each other, sometime you fight one other all the time. And then this is an enemy for me. He would be an enemy for me. Then there will be confrontation. (Berlin-Neukoelln 7)
Enemy for me is ambiguous. Some people are two-faced, who talk with you, who laugh to your face, laugh. But talk behind the back. (Duisburg-Marxloh 5)
An enemy? An enemy for me is someone […] who so to say fucked up, he will never be my friend anymore. Because, I am respectful to him, but he is not to me. The thing, the thing doesn’t fit together. […] Well then, so to say I don’t text him anymore and he, I don’t go out with him anymore. (Dortmund-Nordstadt 5)
Enemy? Is. Pfff. For example, if he sees in you dough, money. Or if he sees that you have good clothes. A lush car. You have a lush house. You buy for your wife, children clothes. Then, no idea, something else. That is one, how do you call that? A jealous person. We call that jealousy. (Berlin-Wedding 2)
Yes, there are some guys, for example, you always hear about the Arab, they are strong. Those are families, with those families you can’t mess up. It happens here in Marxloh. Of course, there are families like this. With them, people always say those Arabs, my god, they are. For me, many Arabs are friends with me. (Duisburg-Marxloh 6)
Honestly speaking, I don’t feel well here anymore. Not anymore like before. Also, for example all the Bulgarian people, here are so many Bulgarians. […] one is worried about one’s bags, one’s phone, one’s money. (Duisburg-Marxloh 1)
Importantly, some of the participants reported being victims of police violence and misconduct. They have a little trust in the police and see them as enemy. The interview partners described that they are not treated well for two reasons: first being resident of the neighborhood and second because of their migration background.
All the groups have their purposes. For example, if anyone can help them with their activities, they will develop friendship with him. If anyone opposes them, they consider him as their enemy. (Islamabad-France Colony 16)
If the groups are involved in conflicts, then it means they are threat to others too. Sometimes it happens that the conflict becomes severe and that particular time there is a threat for ordinary people, too. (Islamabad-France Colony 17)
We stand over here [pointing towards the place where the people were entering into Darbar] and observe the boys. Information has been collected about the [behaviors] of the boy. We have sources [Banday] spread over here and they keep a close eye on the movement of those deviants. If we find that the boy is teasing girls, we follow them. By then, that particular boy also becomes aware and then we make him realize about our rules. If he accepts, it is all cool, but if he doesn’t, it means he has to prepare himself to become our enemy. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 22)
They [enemy] beat one of our friends. The reason was not known at that time. The name of our friend was Fauji. Those boys beat our friend [Fauji]. So it was a conflict among them. Then a time came when Fauji was not present and we were, the boys came here and asked about Fauji that who is Fauji amongst you. When we told them that Fauji is not present, they started to call us names. They were trying to make the issue serious. They started to abuse our friends. […] Then my cousin came and he pretended to be Fauji. He started to retaliate and at that very moment all our friends came there. One of the boys from the other group punched our friend with iron knuckles he was wearing in his fingers. We were sitting there idle and they were equipped with conflicting weapons. They were carrying Chabi, Zanjeer and Punch. We injured some of them. After that event we went to Police station and reported about the conflict. They were also there at police station to report. It’s been a year since that fight. The boys over here are harami [deviant]. They consider themselves the badmash [gangster] of the area. Violence has been the common norm amongst them. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 23)
Yes, they fight a lot. Few days ago, Angar and Malangi group beat few students of nearby school collectively using locks of bicycle. Those students are not from our colony so that’s why they joined each other for the purpose of beating the boys and that what we do in our colony. We might have internal conflicts and contentions but when it comes to a collective action against an outsider we show unity and compete with them with full strength. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 27)
As I said, the honor and dignity of my family is very important to me and if someone is threatening me or my family, I can cross any limit to protect my family. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 2)
The enmity exists among groups in a way that the groups from this France Colony resist the deviant activities by other groups. If they fight back, then the group members from this colony become united to fight together. We have seen them moving towards other areas of Islamabad in order to have fight with others. Sometimes they don’t even know what they are fighting for. (Islamabad-France Colony 16)
Young people gather informally on the corner of a street or a park and are close friends. If any of them has a problem, they send a message to their friends. Upon arrival, they identify the person who has created the friend’s problem as the enemy and may start a fight or in some cases, they do not join the fight. This behavior is mutually reciprocal. They join the fight in order to reduce their own vulnerability. The group is considered as their so-called “safety network”. Even friends who are reluctant to join in the fight, are forced to join. If they resist they are subject to violence and teasing by the rest of the group to force them to join the group. If the person does not join this group, he could join the opponent in order to get support, but either way, he needs to be part of a group to reduce his own vulnerabilities. Purposeless fights are often due to intoxication, family concerns, or occur through jealousy. As already stated, despite the need to show aggression, masculinity, toughness, and power to both friends and enemies, the enemy is nonetheless an important element of the street code in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
Yes I do have enemies most cases people are the one that come to me and make an enemy out of me, let me speak about three people whom I regard as my enemy, one is an old man who use to go to our church, he shouted at man saying I must leave his kid no one is allowed to date at church and so I got slapped so till today he doesn’t know he is my enemy. (Durban-KwaMashu 7)
Enemies, more tangibly, were also seen as physical threats especially in Cape Town, where firearm violence poses a continued and almost constant threat both directly—through being targeted by a rival gang and shot at—and indirectly—by falling victim to a misdirected or ricocheting bullet. Indeed, the indirect threat of projectiles fired by gangs in conflict with one another has caused many thousands of deaths in many of the impoverished communities in the city, a process which was facilitated and expedited by a South African Police Service officer who sold over 1000 firearms, confiscated from other areas, to the gangs. He is at the time of writing serving a 15-year jail sentence.
An enemy is someone who can stop you from doing what you want to do that’s an enemy if someone wants to stop me from doing what I love, is trying to stop or getting in the way of me doing what I want to do then that person is an enemy but how I view, a person is their own enemy like you are your own enemy cause if you want to do something and you cannot because you can’t then you are your own worst enemy because no one is trying to stop you but yourself so I think I am my worst enemy so like I always try to impress me. (Durban-KwaMashu 9)
Well these things of enemy it is someone who has betrayed you, it is someone who has a problem your blood and his don’t clash. Enemy can also be your friend they betray you and if they betray me it is over. (Durban-KwaMashu 2)
An enemy is the person, the one who sees you on the road and has negative things to say about you, for example he would make a nasty comment about my skinny jean. I am sorry to bring back the issue of skinny jean. So even I change to another one, this person would still have nothing positive to say. You find that when I am at fault, again this person is the one who will judge me first and go around telling everybody what I have done. That person, that whether you do good or bad, you always look bad to them, which is what I consider an enemy. (Durban-KwaMashu 5)
An enemy you guys have completely different views from me we would, you are an enemy to me I do not like you, you don’t like me so it’s like that a completely different views is an enemy because you have nothing to share nothing absolutely nothing. (Durban-KwaMashu 10)
I have a lot of them, enemies, people whom you see clearly that they do not want you. Some of the would even tell your straight in the face that thy do not like you. (Durban-KwaMashu 2)
Similarities: In all contexts, an enemy was described as someone who works against the social reputation of an individual, or which utilizes their close ties to undermine others in surreptitious ways. They are as such not generally seen as complete outsiders, but those who can utilize their social ties with individuals and groups to hurt or undermine the group from the inside. With this operating as a platform, it is not necessarily an opponent in a physical fight, more a social rival who acts with a hidden agenda. While this may seem somewhat astonishing, it is clearly a logical consequence of the concept of respect and the way to accumulate it. It is not a shame to lose in a fight, as long a male juvenile stands his ground, but having a reputation as weak, cowardly or dishonest can cause serious damage to the important social individual image. Those who build up such a negative image through lies or as a result of undermining others are seen as enemies. Interestingly, violence is not always the way how to deal with an enemy; social strategies, like ignoring or undermine the social reputation of an enemy are accepted strategies. Furthermore, the enemy is conventionalized as the opposite of a friend, which is described as a loyal and trustful person. However, also friends are mistrusted and seen as possible competition, e.g., by attracting women.
Differences: The role of families in the way an enemy is conventionalized differs between the contexts. In Pakistan, an enemy undermines the reputation of the opponent family as well, but this is not true for Germany and South Africa. However, the reason for this is the fundamental difference in the organization of this community and family than what Anderson describes in the US context. So too the binary roles of decent and street are not developed in the same way as proposed by Anderson. Also, the role of friends in shaping an enemy differs between the contexts. Observable is that someone could become an enemy simply because s/he is the enemy of a friend. Also, friends can become enemies, e.g., when they “take” the girlfriend of a friend. Therefore, friends are also a source of mistrust and a potential social threat.
9.4.7 Reflection of the Shape of the Code of the Street
The analysis of the core elements of the street code, enrolled on the individual perception, has brought similarities and differences to the original work about code of the street on the one hand, but shown also differences between the countries, we did research in. Looking at the broader picture, the findings suggest, that the construction of a street code and its shape differs highly between the countries. The differences compared to the work of Anderson are so significant, that we cannot see, that the theoretical approach of the code of the street, with it the causal assumption how the elements are connected to each other and which role violence plays (Chap. 3), can be maintained, if its claimed as a general theory about street violence in risky neighborhoods. But this theoretical reflection will be done more in detail in Chap. 11. Next, we want to discuss if the outcome of the code, the perception of violence, differs between the contexts.
9.5 Consequences of the Code of the Street for Male Juveniles from a Comparative Perspective
9.5.1 Comparison of Violence Perception
In inner city neighborhoods, the poverty and mistrust among people result in violence as a way of public life “which is effectively governed by the code of the street” (Anderson 1999). Moreover, street fights, drug use and sale, and harsh police activities are part of normal life. The diverse neighborhood ecologies and household violence experience by young people affirm their perception of the prevalence of violence throughout the community. Many of the respondents reported similar situations in their neighborhoods and described fighting and fist fights as an everyday routine. Moreover, the participants mentioned that violence is an effective way of dealing with everyday matters in the neighborhoods.
Yes okay, it is normal that some windows or so break, accidently, or some brawl in school, Marxloh. (Duisburg-Marxloh 5)
Violence? When you punch someone, or hit someone with a stick. It hasn’t happened in our group, but for example with a stick, knuckleduster, such, such things. If you hit him really hard, he falls down on the ground, but you still hit him, you have no mercy. (Duisburg-Marxloh 4)
[…] then, at the fair, at the fair somehow I had a fight or something. Like it is common among adolescents. Unfortunately. And yes. Once I had a fight, I think it was in April, Easter, Easter break. At that time. Yes and I saw my brother, he also saw that I was fighting. But he did nothing. (Dortmund-Nordstadt 6)
The above excerpts depict the image of the neighborhood and everyday activities. In schools and other public places, a fight is considered as routine activity. Similar to these storylines, other adolescents reported different episodes of violence in their neighborhoods. In this milieu, violence is a commonplace means to settle matters. In various situations, youths tried to avoid engaging in violent acts immediately, to avoid escalating the situation. However, disrespect is countered with violence. As mentioned earlier, young people see violence as instrumental to avoid victimization and disrespect. As such, they frequently attempt to retaliate against any act of disrespect on the street.
Disrespecting others, teasing someone without any reason, killing or torturing someone are all examples of violence. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 27)
Beating, teasing or killing someone without any reason all comes under violence. Few days ago, in our neighbor some guys came and they beat an older man here, when we came to know that we all came to his aid but till that time those guys had run away. After investigating we came to know that this old man had to pay some debt of those people but due to his poor socio-economic conditions he was unable to pay back the loan. This was also a kind of violence, a poor person who has no source of income, was beaten by those cowards. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 26)
Any act which could harm a human being is violence, whether the harm is mental, emotional or physical. Though sometimes it becomes necessary to use violence for own defense but not in any other case. Bothering someone without any reason, poking nose in other peoples’ business and fighting and beating others all are examples of violence. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 2)
Sometimes violence becomes necessary for you, as once few guys started fighting with our friends during a cricket match. They were in majority and tortured our friends very badly. When we became aware of it we planned and after few days we captured few of those guys and gave them beating of their life. We might be having fights and experiences of violence but I never raised a hand on an elder person neither on a female. I also avoid making any trouble with children […] In our neighborhood most of our peers are violent and are involved in violence in one way or the other. Therefore, it is very necessary for us to look tough and hard in order to avoid possible victimization as if I look very innocent, I might be considered as an easy target by other guys and no one will be afraid of me. Respect is given to a guy who is more tough and aggressive. (Rawalpindi-Dhok Matkial 26)
Sometimes family matters also cause violence in our neighborhood, issues over property which become cause of enmities among families and households. These days issues related to girls have become a major reason for violence, as these days, boys and girls are both very hot (garam) who then cause contentions for their families. (Islamabad-France Colony 16)
Yes, I can use pistol, Kalashnikov, these are at home. I don’t take them outside with me because when you have such weapon there is more chance to use it because we mostly indulge in unforeseen problems. And if I ended up using it, I am going to have to spend the whole life in jail. I might commit some murder so that’s why it is better to keep them at home […] Keeping in view the situation of our neighborhood we have to show some violence in some cases to gain reputation and respect among our peers. If I do not respond to a violent act for my friend or anyone else, I will then become an easy target in future as well. Nobody will then be afraid of me so therefore it is necessary to react violently in order to gain respect from others. However, I am against of raising hand on women, children or elders. I never did this neither. I allow any of my friends to do so. I don’t even help anyone do that. I try to help the women and elders as much as I can if they are in trouble. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 27)
Punch is used mostly. Punch is used on fingers. It is dangerous because the injury from punch does not recover or heal soon. So, once it is used, then the injuries remain for a long period of time. Along with punch, stick is also used. Even pistols are used. But all the boys in different groups do not have pistols and it is difficult to use. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 21)
We do not use any specific kind of weapon. At the time of conflicts everything is used that comes handy. Rods/Cudgels are mostly used. Some people use punches which is worn around the fingers and it makes severe injury when used. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 22)
I am personally against all types of violence. Violence is violence, there is no normality in it, though there are sometimes and moments in which you have to become violent for your dignity and honor but it’s better to avoid it anyhow. And I personally consider violence against females, elders and children as an act of coward. A man with honor and dignity will never raise his hand on children, elders and females. (Islamabad-Bari Imam 1)
Violence is one of the dominant codes of the street in the risky urban neighborhoods of Pakistan. Deviant adolescents particularly were active participants in violent activities, using different kinds of weapons to fight with each other and in fights against their enemies. They were perpetuators as well as victims of violence.
Violence, I can say it’s a situation, which happens. It may happen between two people or many people. Violence can be verbal argument and sometimes it gets physical. That is what I could call violence. You find that sometimes a person responds to you with very heavy words or painful. I can call that violence. It also includes beating up a person, that’s violence, especially when there is no need. (Durban-KwaMashu 5)
Violence is to do something that does not sit well nor treat that person well, you might be doing it in a form of hitting them physical abuse, or maybe even emotional abuse or even say things that will hurt that person that is violence, insulting etc. (Durban-KwaMashu 6)
Yes, so you can show that person that what they are doing you don’t like and appreciate them doing it, but you need to first sit down with that person and talk to them and them that person and warn him or her but if he or she continues then all hell will break loose if that person does not understand. (Durban-KwaMashu 6)
Violence for me is not important because it happens that you get in a new environment and you find people you don’t know people you not sure what their personalities are which in most cases if you do not know someone you might say something they don’t like about anything in general and that might end up in a violent manner, other form of violence is being mugged is also part of it, you might get attacked where someone just stabs you, shoot you or even kidnap you that is violence. (Durban-KwaMashu 7)
Nah I don’t do violence it’s not cool I don’t get it I don’t understand how stupid you have to be in order for you to be like have to make someone else feel bad just so you can feel good, because that what is it at the end of the day you hurting someone to feel good it’s stupid really stupid. (Durban-KwaMashu 10)
That’s violence. Whereas if you call an older person who can assist in sorting the problem out even before people can test each other’s power. (Durban-KwaMashu 2)
I think violence is dumb you behaving like a cave man. (Durban-KwaMashu 9)
It’s not important at all because it does not fix anything in life. You have to talk nicely with people so that you can be able to solve all the problems you have and not be violent. Violence is not important. (Durban-KwaMashu 5)
Its either I go and smoke depending on how angry I am I smoke a lot of weed and also meditate. (Durban-KwaMashu 9)
I’m pretty ok with it. (Cape Town-Hanover Park 7)
Similarities: In all contexts, violence has been defined as a physical and social issue. Furthermore, it is a part of daily life and all juveniles struggle with it, but to a different degree, ranging from a relatively peaceful German context, to a highly violent one in South Africa. However, even if violence is a normal part of daily life, it is perceived as an alienated normality and a peaceful way of life is preferred. So, violence is a tool to respond to threats from the environment, but by doing this, juveniles contribute to the very threat they try to keep at bay. Also, violence is not a way to gain respect, but a show of force.
Differences: In Pakistan and South Africa, violence is a social currency, which helps to get things done, which is not true for Germany. This is a significant difference, which shows that the code of the street has different outcomes, depending on the context where it has been analyzed. Furthermore, families are a source of violence in Pakistan in particular. This was not mentioned in Germany or South Africa in the same way.
9.5.2 Reflection of the Consequences of the Code of the Street
Our assumption was that the outcome of the street code would be more or less similar, even if the shape of the code itself differs between the countries in similar spatial frameworks. But the results are different, especially between Germany on the one hand and South Africa and Pakistan on the other. Violence there is a social currency and a guarantee that things will be done. So, it is embedded in everyday life and also connected to the reputation of the family, by holding up traditional values. Again, the difference between the countries is too significant to come to the conclusion that the code of the street, as Anderson proposed, based on findings of an ethnographical analysis in the US, operates equally in different contexts.
9.6 Conclusion of the Cross-Cultural Comparison About the Code of the Street
Altogether, the cross-cultural comparison about the core elements of the code of the street showed similarities and differences toward the original work, which will receive theoretical reflection in Chap. 11. Furthermore, street codes are constructed in all countries, even the shape differs, but violence is an outcome by all. However, the level and perception of violence differ between the contexts. Nevertheless, our cross-cultural comparison brought more results than those which focus on the code of the street alone. These findings provide an insight into different, but sometimes also equal, lifeworlds of male juveniles in risky neighborhoods in different countries. The findings are discussed in the next chapter.
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