The coupling of racial and economic stratification has been found to result in a range of adverse outcomes for youth of color, including disproportionate exposure to violence and victimization. Primary explanations of these patterns, particularly at the micro-level, have focused on the impact of street culture. In this article, we draw from a multiyear ethnography in Cape Town, South Africa, to offer a theoretical elaboration of the place of culture in contributing to victimization risks among urban minority young men. The study is based on data collected from a sample of 26 young men of color who lived on the Cape Flats between 2003 and 2006. Using grounded theory methods, we suggest the import of unequal access to spatial mobility as a multifaceted means by which culture mediates young men's risks for victimization in disadvantaged communities. We find that transitory mobility-conceptualized as youth's temporary access to cultural spaces outside their segregated residential neighborhoods-is an important source of cultural heterogeneity in townships that can intensify the strength of local social identities and outgroup antipathies directed at those whose mobility is perceived as a cultural threat. Transitorily mobile young men's cultural repertoires are a key facet of street efficacy that can either insulate them from risk or heighten their vulnerabilities. Our findings are suggestive of important sources of variation in young men's victimization outcomes in disadvantaged communities, offering insights about factors that shape risks beyond those linked to the victim-offender overlap in high-risk settings.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Cultural heterogeneity
- Street culture
- Transitory mobility
- Victimization risk