American Sociological Associations

On the run: Wanted men in a Philadelphia Ghetto. American Sociological Association, 74(3), 339-357. After reading the article, it was clear that it was written to give insight on what really happens in black neighborhoods and how daily lives are affected. Goffman’s (2009) purpose is to show that, “Although recent increases in imprisonment are concentrated in poor Black communities, we know little about how daily life within these neighborhoods is affected” (p. 39). Additionally, there are no research questions directly stated, but are implied throughout the article as to how exactly prejudice and racism towards the black communities can affect a black person’s life and to those around him. The major independent variable in the analysis is that over the years, young black males with little or no education have been imprisoned at least once in their life. The number of people being incarcerated keeps growing.

The dependent variable ,or effect, of this cause is how being incarcerated even just once, can affect their daily lives in getting employment and always being on the run because of fear of being incarcerated again. The article did show theoretical frameworks as part of the literature review which focused on young uneducated black males. This article focused on the failure of young black men’s color, on how they could get arrested just by being seen as a black male.

Other research and/or studies would focus on the “ghetto,” not just as a black male ghetto, but possibly people from other origins who live in ghettos such as Latino gang members. Goffman (2009) focuses only on black male gender theory. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used in the article. For quantitative methods, a percentage of black males being imprisoned were shown. As evidence, Pettit and Western (2004) stated, “30 percent of those with only high school diplomas have been to prison, and 60 percent of those who did not finish high school have prison records by their mid-30s,” (p. 39). Wildeman (2009) also stated, “One in four Black children born in 1990 had a father imprisoned,” (p. 339). For the qualitative method, Goffman (2009) used descriptive events and places that she was actually involved and observed in. The research design made the article more understanding and interesting by giving us a clear picture of how percent numbers grew for black males being incarcerated and how the outcome of it affected their daily lives.

In order to obtain information for the article, Goffman (2009) would actually spend time hanging out with young male men who had a record of being incarcerated and living in a bad neighborhood where cop surveillance had increased. Goffman (2009) would be, “spending most of my waking hours hanging out on Chuck’s back porch steps, or along the alley way between his block and Mike’s block,” and “for the next four years I spent two and six days a week on 6th street and roughly one day a week visiting members of the group in jail and prison,” (p. 42). The data collection Goffman (2009) obtained consisted of observations and actually taking field notes with the young men’s consent, although she would not directly ask questions. Goffman (2009) used quotes of what people would say by, “typing it down directly onto a laptop or by using a cell phone text message,” (p. 342). She also interviewed lawyers, police officers, probation officers and a judge to get more research information for the article.

Goffman (2009) analyzed the data she obtained by observing actual events that went on in Black communities and placing them in the article very descriptively. They were systematically described by the events being in order and giving readers a clear view of imagining what exactly was happening. As a result of all the evidence put together, Goffman (2009) found out that because black males had been incarcerated they were the main target of being incarcerated again because of their color, due to this fact they live in fear of going back to jail and are always on the run.

They cannot keep a decent life and those around them such as family, friends, and girlfriends use the fact that they can be incarcerated again to their advantage to get money, keep them “in check”, and to get payback if they’ve been done wrong by them. Goffman (2009) also stated that, “Young men also turn their wanted status into a resource by using it to account for shortcomings or failures that may have occurred anyway,” (p. 354). These findings are accurately and adequately described so that readers can evaluate the claims and have a good picture of how their lives are affected.

The research findings matter to me in a sense that I now have a much broader understanding on what black males go through in the type of neighborhoods that they live in. I was able to see how prejudice and racism also play a big role in young black male men being the target of being incarcerated. The issue in American society that may have shaped this article and research is racism because due to a male’s color they are automatically suspected of doing something wrong and whether or not they’ve done something wrong at the time they are taken to jail.

Very much creditability should be given to the research and findings of this article because it helps us see the side of the story we did not know about. The research is solid and very useful because it helps us understand how and why young male black men live in fear and can’t lead a normal life without actually being caught by authorities. Goffman’s (2009) article helps provide a new outlook on how lives are in fact affected in Black neighborhoods.