The Sliding Scale of Snitching: A Qualitative Examination of Snitching in Three Philadelphia Communities

Susan Clampet-Lundquist, Patrick J. Carr, Maria J. Kefalas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

We conducted an in-depth interview study with 77 young men in three moderate to high-crime neighborhoods in Philadelphia to hear their stories about community violence and relations with police. In this article, we have analyzed how Latino, African-American, and white young men experience policing and how they discuss the guidelines around cooperation with the police and what they view as snitching. Contrary to popular perception, talking to the police is not always banned in poor or high-crime neighborhoods. Instead, the respondents present a variety of personal rules that they use to assess when cooperation is called for. We argue that the policing they experience within disadvantaged neighborhoods shapes their frame of legal cynicism, which in turn makes decisions not to cooperate with the police more likely.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-285
Number of pages21
JournalSociological Forum
Volume30
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

Keywords

  • Neighborhoods crime
  • Policing
  • Social control
  • Violence, youth

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