Growing up bad: Black youth, ‘road’ culture and badness in an East London neighbourhood

Gunter, Anthony (2008). Growing up bad: Black youth, ‘road’ culture and badness in an East London neighbourhood. Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal, 4(3) pp. 349–366.



This paper addresses the role and importance of badness within the youth subculture (`Road' Life) of young black Caribbean males growing up in an East London neighbourhood. The research that I have undertaken attempts to explore how the notion of badness particularly influences the young informant's attitudes, values, behaviour and dress wear. Adapting and integrating the concepts of `drift' (Matza, 1964), `code of the street' (Anderson, 1999), and the `seductions of crime' (Katz, 1988), I examine the way in which the majority of young black males involved with Road Life, look to appropriate and flirt with certain aspects of badness for reasons to do with survival, `money-making', and aesthetics (style and fashion). I will then go on to briefly focus on the small minority of young males whose lifestyles centre around the practicing of badness; where I am mainly concerned with detailing their values, attitudes and the types of activities that these `rude boys' might be involved in. This paper is based upon a much larger ethnographic study undertaken in an East London neighbourhood. Empirical data was gleaned via participant observation supplemented by semi-structured interviews.

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