The Code of the Suburb and Drug Dealing

Scott Jacques and Richard Wright

in The Oxford Handbook of Criminological Theory

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199747238
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Code of the Suburb and Drug Dealing

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  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Theories of Crime
  • Drugs Trade


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High rates of violence are characteristic of many urban drug markets because the individuals therein abide by a set of informal rules known as the code of the street. This code governs interpersonal conduct that emerges from the social circumstances found in various communities in America. Drug market participants who subscribe to this code view violence as a means to earn respect, status, and security. Not all drug markets are urban, how or exhibit high rates of violence, however. This is probably the reason why researchers have focused disproportionately on violent, inner-city drug markets to account for the conditions that facilitate violence in such environments. This article examines why there is a dearth of violence in drug markets in suburbs, focusing on the cultural context in which such markets operate. It first describes a study of twenty-five young suburban drug dealers before looking at the code of the suburb. It also assesses the code's impact on drug dealing, especially in relation to handling victimization, and concludes by highlighting the relevance of peace for understanding violence.

Keywords: suburbs; code of the street; drug markets; drug dealers; violence; victimization; peace

Article.  6534 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Theories of Crime ; Drugs Trade

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