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Culture of Honor and Code of the Street

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 June 2021

Arthur L. Whaley*
Independent Scholar, Houston, Texas
Corresponding author: Arthur L. Whaley, P. O. Box 20551, Houston, TX 77225. E-mail:


Gun violence and related risk factors differ for African American and European Americans. However, there may be overlap in the psychosocial and contextual factors with respect to cultural processes related to gun violence in Black and White communities. The purpose of this article is to compare the culture of honor perspective associated with rural and suburban gun violence of European American males in the southern region to the code of the street value system ascribed to the gun violence of African American males in northern urban cities. The cultural values underlying gun violence will be reviewed in terms of cultural origins, family and community support, and ecological evidence. The central question is whether there are sufficient commonalities between the cultural ecology of the two value systems such that one has practice and policy implications for the other. The current analysis of culture-of-honor and code-of-the-street value systems vis-à-vis gun violence reveals several points of overlap in philosophy and function. Implications for policies and practices to prevent gun violence stemming from culture-of-honor and code-of-the-street value systems include (1) psychological interventions to address the perceived threats to the self; (2) neighborhood interventions to promote a sense of collective efficacy among residents; (3) addressing racial and economic inequality; (4) better gun control laws; and (5) media campaigns and interventions designed to change social and cultural norms for violence. It is important to note the pervasiveness of these value systems may vary by ethnicity and race which must be taken into consideration in violence prevention efforts.

State of the Discourse
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Hutchins Center for African and African American Research

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