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In Search of Respect by Philippe Bourgois

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Maya Lowe

on 9 October 2013

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Transcript of In Search of Respect by Philippe Bourgois

Chapter 8: Vulnerable Fathers
Masculinity in Historical Crisis
Older generation= traditional view of family and masculinity
Children contribute to economy
Masculine respect centers on having large families & supporting them economically
Had as many children as possible
Ray says that children :grow up healthy" if they "had the proper role model as a father."
A man with lots of children = commanded respect vs. Childbearing women = dissed
Men say they would support their children if they could, but they don't:
"He takes better care ... he have?" Pg. 293
Ray has nine kids and doesn't take care of any of them because 'his women fuck up
Older generation: masculinity = "reproduction-centered imperatives"
Younger generation: masculinity = "sexual belt-notching"
Material Basis for the Polarization of Intimate Violence
Patriarchal family structure and the emergence of domestic and sexual violence
logic of contemporary inner misogyny
Family pathology is not entirely understood intergenerationally
the basic psychological explanation of family violence over the generations.
Extreme violence growing up lead to same "cycle" of abuse.
Primo influenced to beat Candy.
The ideal nuclear family
Pressure, frustration and stress to provide for the family
Emergence of self-destruction by the usage of drugs and "celebration" of violence
Structure vs Agency::
Structurally: employment difficult to maintain while taking care of child.
Marginalization of people like Primo at U.S. Litho.
Agency: The choice to do drugs and falliing asleep lead to self destruction
Patriarchal Element:
The fathers primarily struggle vs women have strict roles (Primo's sisters).
Yearning for Fatherhood
Absence, physical and verbal abuse, drug use, unemployment, and violence and illegal activities of underground economy in lives of fathers in El Barrio all influence growth and development of their sons for the future.
Fathers in El Barrio are most likely following the examples of their own fathers who were absent in their lives when they were children
Primo: “I don’t even remember being with my father…” (pg. 310) now Primo is doing the same to Papito.
He does not want his son Papito living with him maybe because he does not want Papito exposed to drug life or because he simply does not want to take full responsibility for his son
Primo chooses to spend his money on drugs rather than provide for his son. He then blames the street for making him use up all his money
many children of El Barrio are left without reliable fathers
women are supposed to take all the responsibility
men like Caesar and Primo criticize their efforts without providing any help
new system of child care is developed within El Barrio
Main Ideas of Chapter 8
centers around lack of dependable fathers
acceptance in the culture
contradictory to traditional Puerto Rican culture
creates a cycle of weak fathers
Maya Lowe
Aysha Hababba
Jake Ceballo
Hannah Hiraki
Ana Santos
Introduction and Celebrating Paternal Powerlessness
urging fathers back into houses
repeating the problem due to the cycle of abuse
men abuse women because of frustration
no "secure" work for the dropout
destroys traditional household
1979-1982: 50% rise (from 12-18%) in amount of "working poor" households
history and culture affect the "paternal neglect and abuse"
El Barrio men formed a twisted social hierarchy
underground economy leads to:
economic insecurity
high levels of violence
Celebrating Paternal Powerlessness
pattern the men of Ray's network
street culture created another arena for sense of dignity
conscious of lack of families
Primo comforted himself by depending on his girlfriend(s)
ex: his various girlfriends in the Social Club
has to maintain image of being a player
women were allowed to "celebrate promiscuity"
Eddie gives possible explanations for the pronounced sexuality of men in the Game Room
Discussion Questions
Do you think women should "tolerate inordinate amounts of abuse" if it means more money for the household?

Eddie provides several possible explanations for why men in El Barrio boast so much about their "sexual conquests." What do you think is reason for the boasting?
Discussion Question
What do you think is the main cause of violence in El Barrio society or culture?
Most women in El Barrio end up breaking their abusive relationships with their men
However, they then fall in love again with the same type of men again, and the cycle repeats
Street Culture Logic: men are exempt from the responsibility of providing for their children
Candy is seen as a failure in the area that she doesn't have a husband (herself and Caesar)

Accommodating Patriarchy
"Whole Package"
When you're dating a girl, you need to provide for her needs and her kids (baggage) no matter how you do it (Primo and Candy)
First day of school
Louis steals three, four, even five car radios a night to bring in money for their school uniforms and school supplies
Motherly Love
Candy thinks that the pain of pregnancy and the hardships of child rearing
her to be the active 'parent' of the of the child
Feelings of powerlessness from the child towards their father
Discussion Questions
Yearning for Fatherhood cont.
El Barrio fathers talk about wanting to do well for their sons, saying fathers have to be committed, however do not have will power to overcome their addictions and allure to drugs
Primo’s father was an abusive alcoholic
typical relationship between wives and husbands in El Barrio: Abuse by the husband during marriage created a sense of apathy by the wife when he died
Both Primo and Caesar say they were never angry with their fathers even though they were abusive and never present in their lives.
they understand because they have also proven to be poor fathers
Discussion Question
What do you think is the probability that sons in El Barrio will continue the cycle of fatherhood illustrated in chapter 8 (drug users and absent fathers)? Why?
The institutions of Puerto Rico, which "acted as an extended family", controlled women and children
Men in Puerto Rico vs. Men in El "Barrio
Provided for their children and they respected what he said "with his eyes"
Do not provide for their children and they do not follow these silent commands
Children of fathers who moved to El Barrio don't have "the option of respecting their father" because they end up being messed up:
Primo's father vs. Little Pete's father
"Ataques de nervios" = nervous attacks usually confined to women, usually caused by jealousy, abuse, or failure in love
Primo's father has one
Discussion Questions
Why do you think the father's in El Barrio lost that sense of respect through eye contact? Drug use, no economic prosperity, uncomfortable living, etc.?

Why do you think the older generation is more focused on producing more children while the younger generation is focused on “sexual belt-notching?”
Masculinity in Historical Crisis Continued
Caesar said that "the absence of a man in [Candy's] her household as proof that her qualities as a mother were flawed".
How does this portray the social norms, expectations, and gender roles in El Barrio?
What was the reasoning behind Candy’s refusal to talk bad about her child’s fathers? Why?
Why is Candy considered a bad female 'role model' in El Barrio?
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